PERSAD CENTER, Inc. is the nation’s second oldest licensed mental health center specifically created to serve the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community.
Founded in 1972, Persad was created in response to the demand for specialized, nondiscriminatory services expressed by LGBT individuals through an underground Pittsburgh gay hotline. Started by a group of gay activists in Allegheny County, the hotline was originally established to provide LGBT people with information regarding safe places to meet one another, and as a communication network to make LGBT people aware of happenings in the community.
In an effort to meet the community’s requests for safe, non-judgmental mental health services, our founders, Dr. James Huggins and Randall Forrester, along with their friends, sketched out the plans for PERSAD while traveling on a bus headed to DC to protest the Vietnam War. The name PERSAD was chosen by merging the words “personal” and “adjustment”. The agency was established by a board of directors formed at a meeting that took place at Calvary Episcopal Church and included among its members two clergy, a University of Pittsburgh Social Work Professor and a physician who all recognized the need for this unique agency.
Did you know that PERSAD CENTER created one of the first AIDS support programs in the United States? Check out this timeline of PERSAD milestones and community impact.