Recognizing LGBTQ+ History Month with a Meditation on the Past and Hopes for the Future

Pierre Chin tells his story of 32 years at The Center.

A person with glasses smiling in front of an LGBTQ+ pride flag.

3 Decades at The Center

The Center offers everyone a chance to witness and participate in queer history, no matter how much time they spend here—whether they’re admiring the art on our walls for just a few hours, immersed in one of our semester-long youth internships, or volunteering year after year with our statewide advocacy program.

Some find lifelong homes at The Center, and together we make LGBTQ+ history throughout the decades.

32 years ago, after having immigrated from Jamaica, Pierre Chin stepped through The Center’s doors as a young student looking for support and connection. Today, he is our Senior Director of Contracts and Finance Administration.

We invited Pierre to speak with us this LGBTQ+ History Month about the historic milestones he has seen in his time at The Center, how he sees progress happening today, his thoughts on current issues facing our community, and his dreams for the future.

The Interview


Tell us about yourself! How did you first get connected to The Center?

I came here as an immigrant 32 years ago. I was a student at Brooklyn College. Being in New York City, I was trying to figure myself out as a young man…but I wasn’t 100% ready to make that leap. I had girlfriends who basically had to tell me, “You’re gay, get over it.” So I ventured into Manhattan—I’d heard about this Center—and I remember walking across the street opposite the building, back and forth, just working up the courage to walk in.

That first visit broke the ice, and I came back and wanted to volunteer. I was answering phones, and we got the full spectrum of calls you can imagine—folks checking in on the meetings happening that day, prank calls, those asking for resources, people visiting the city and wanting to know where the bars were. Most of them were just people who wanted to do what I had done: figuring out where they could get support and connect with people they identify with.


What did it feel like to witness major historic milestones from within The Center?

What sticks out to my memory from any of the big events—Stonewall 25, marriage equality, elections—is how this building became a place for people to celebrate or gather. Whatever was happening, we’d open a space in the larger rooms and project the news onto whatever screen we had, so that people could come here and hear the news first.

The energy is what I remember. It’s when you see strangers hugging when something wonderful happens. It was important, being part of that crowd, in this space, and being able to say I was there when it happened.


That positive energy you’re describing sounds beautiful, and sadly different from how things tend to feel now. We’ve been seeing major backlash and backslides in terms of our rights—from attacks against trans people just trying to live openly, the erosion of reproductive rights, and limitations on affirming medical care. What are your thoughts on where our community stands today?

We’ve made leaps and bounds for sure, but I’m worried when I see that even in this day and age, there’s still people who hate us. So I’m worried about what will happen to all the work that’s been done by tons of people who came before me, after me…and what the future could look like.

But also, young people are a lot louder, more opinionated, more forceful. That’s what I put my trust in—their belief in themselves, which I didn’t have 30 years ago. Young people’s belief in the basic rights they’re entitled to as human beings means they won’t be taken away so easily.


What do you imagine, dream about, hope for the future of the LGBTQ+ community?

I don’t think our community should take anything for granted—Roe v. Wade is an example. There are still people who believe we don’t deserve or have the right to be who we are, and just because we have movies with gay and trans characters, it doesn’t mean that suddenly everything is okay. So I hope everybody knows the fight is not over. There’s a lot to learn from the folks that have done this work before.


Tell us more about that last point. How can we learn from the past?

By understanding that the hard work is going to involve a lot of discomfort. It takes having hard conversations, calling people out, and standing up for your neighbor. You might get hurt, you might get arrested, you may lose family and friends… But at the end of the day, know that our basic liberties are worth all of that.

And don’t second-guess yourself. A lot of our LGBTQ heroes didn’t second-guess themselves! They felt discriminated against, hurt, and abandoned. Yet they stepped out of their comfort zones and faced that head-on.


Is there anything else you think is important to talk about during LGBTQ+ History Month?

I’ve seen The Center shift and change, grow and struggle. It’s definitely an icon, a resource, and a symbol. I want people to feel what I felt 30 years ago—that we’re here to help and support. Maybe coming out isn’t the same as it was 30 years ago, but people do still struggle. So knowing that there’s a safe, welcoming, warm place for people to come and just be themselves is amazing. Don’t shy away. Just take a leap of faith and come inside.

Get Involved

The generosity of readers like you helps The Center remain a safe, warm, welcoming place for LGBTQ+ people for generations to come.

Support Our Work