Spotlight on History: Recognizing Health Center Leaders in LGBTQ Health Care, with Callen-Lorde Community Health Center

Spotlight on History: Callen-Lorde Community Health Center

New York’s Callen-Lorde Community Health Center is a prominent leader serving the city’s   lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer communities.[1] It traces its roots to 1969, when the St. Mark’s Church-in-the Bowery began a  free clinic, offering care to the local neighborhood and young people who made their way to the East Village in the months following the Stonewall uprising. Not long after, the nation’s first lesbian clinic was established as the Women’s Health Collective, followed by the Gay Men’s Health Project, the East Coast’s first clinic for gay men.

As the AIDS epidemic unfolded, these pioneering organizations pooled their resources and merged to become the Community Health Project, Inc. (CHP).  Working with the city’s public hospital system, CHP opened the first community-based HIV clinic in 1985, and in the early 90’s pioneered new programs to meet the needs of marginalized lesbian, transgender and teen communities.

With a loan through the Primary Care Development Corporation, CHP purchased and renovated a condemned building and in 1998, moved into its new home. The center was renamed the Callen-Lorde Community Health Center, in tribute to both musician and AIDS activist Michael Callen[2] and Audre Lorde, the self-described “Black, lesbian, mother, warrior, poet and civil rights activist.[3]

Callen-Lorde has since grown into a network of primary care centers across New York City, offering a wide variety of services, including primary care, on-site pharmacies, behavioral health services, women’s health, transgender health, medical case management support, and dental care.

Callen-Lorde is actively engaged in research collaborations, advocacy and education to address the needs of LGBTQ+ communities and people living with AIDS, such as the Leading Innovation for Transgender Women’s Health and Empowerment Plus (LITE Plus), focused on the impacts of stigma and stress on health for Black and Latina transgender women.[4] It is a key partner in SMASH[5], a social media campaign aimed at educating people about PrEP, and COIN[6], a program providing free care to sex workers. In 2019, in a historic partnership with the Keith Haring Foundation, Callen-Lorde launched the nation’s first Nurse Practitioner Postgraduate Fellowship in LGBTQ+ Health.[7] The health center was also instrumental in supporting the community during the COVID-19 pandemic and MonkeyPox outbreaks.[8]

Callen-Lorde’s commitment and innovation in LGBTQ+ care continue, and as does its well-earned recognition: In 2023, Healthcare Digital Magazine named the health center a Top 10 LGBTQ+ Healthcare Business,[9]


[1] CHroniCles (n.d.) Callen-Lorde Community Health Center. Accessed March 8, 2024 at

[2] (2024). Who was Michael Callen?

[3] The Audre Lorde Project (n.d.).  ABOUT AUDRE LORDE. Accessed March 8, 2024 at

[4] Callen-Lorde (2024). Current Studies.  Accessed March 8, 2024 at

[5] Callen-Lorde (2024). Smash. Accessed March 8, 2024 at

[6] Callen-Lorde (2024). COIN Clinic. Accessed March 8, 2024 at

[7] Callen-Lorde (2019). Introducing the Keith Haring Nurse Practitioner Postgraduate Fellowship in LGBTQ+ Health.  Accessed March 8, 2024 at

[8] Callen-Lorde (2023). Mpox (MPV) Information.. Accessed March 8, 2024 at

[9] King, Charlie & Amber Jackson (2023). Top 10 LGBTQ+ healthcare businesses. Healthcare Digital Magazine  Accessed March 8, 2024 at