Stonewall Alliance Center celebrating 20 years

The Stonewall Alliance Center (SAC) was formed in 1990 to create a safe space for the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community of Butte County and the Northern Sacramento Valley. A committee of men and women from the community conducted a thorough needs assessment and secured the first location of the Stonewall Alliance Center in 1992.

The Stonewall Alliance of Chico grew out of the existing Chico Chapter of PFLAG (Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays). In the 1970s, Harlen and Lois Adams opened their home to gays and lesbians, their families, and their friends. Over time, the meetings became a consistent source of support for many people, and the Chico group became a founding chapter of what is now the National PFLAG organization.

At the time the Stonewall Alliance of Chico was founded, few other organizations were operating in Butte County for the LGBT*QI+ community. Those providing entertainment, social, and support functions were: Chico PFLAG (mentioned above); Girlz Club (later known as Women’s Cultural Productions); the student group at CSU, Chico; and the Province of Chico, a “chapter” of Sacramento’s Imperial Court (CGNIE).

On April 23, 1990, the first exploratory meeting was held in order to discuss the possibility of creating an LGBT*QI+ community center. By June 30th, plans were in the works, and the first fundraiser for the Stonewall Alliance of Chico, a Yard Sale, was held. On August 27, 1990, Stonewall Alliance was incorporated by the Secretary of State, and three months later, the IRS 501c3 status was obtained. On November 17, the first dance with the Girlz Club was held at Melody Hall. The launch issue of CenterStone was released for the Fall/Winter 1990 issue.

The first pride event, Freedom Fest, was held at Alumni Glen on CSU, Chico’s campus on July 21, 1991. On September 27, 1992, the Grand Opening of the Stonewall Alliance Center at 820 West 7th Street Chico was held. By fall of 1993, Women’s Cultural Productions (formerly Girlz Club) merged with Stonewall Alliance. A year later, in 1994, Stonewall’s Youth Group members were featured on the cover of the Chico News & Review.

The Stonewall Alliance of Chico continued to be a resource for the LGBT*QI+ community. They were at the forefront of Butte County’s first AIDS Walk on May 6, 1996. The HIV testing program that Stonewall Alliance of Chico continues to offer first began in August 1997. In May 1998, the Center was the host site of the first fertility and adoption workshop in the area. Following the community response to Matthew Shepard’s murder, on August 3, 1999, the Chico Police began receiving LGBT*QI+ sensitivity training provided by the Center.

The Stonewall Alliance of Chico started the transgender group in August of 2001. On February 15, 2004, the Center held a meet and greet reception for Marriage Equality of California. Unfortunately, in 2005, the economy and budget cuts hit the Center hard, and there were many staff layoffs during this period. However, by summer of 2006, the Center reorganized, gained new board members, and reconnected to the community. On October 11th, 2007, the SAY Twenties group hosted the National Coming Out Day Dinner and Dance.

In June 2008, same-sex marriage was legalized in California, and at the end of the month, the Center moved to 2889 Cohasset Road. In Fall 2008, Stonewall Alliance of Chico was instrumental in organizing No on Prop 8 rallies in the Downtown Plaza, although Prop 8 passed November 4, 2008. In the years since, Chico PFLAG renewed its meetings, The Teen Group was initiated, the Chico Board of Supervisors approved a contract for the Suicide Prevention Education Project, and the Stonewall Alliance of Chico celebrated its 20th anniversary.

The Center continues to be a hub of activities, a resource to the LGBT*QI+ community, and an advocacy center for LGBT*QI+ rights. Our current location is 358 East 6th Street (at Flume).

SAC was an early member of the National Association of LGBT*QI+ Community Centers. Over 125 community centers exist in the United States. Each an independent agency serving local community needs.

City of Chico Proclamation