The LESBIAN/GAY COMMUNITY SERVICE CENTER OF GREATER CLEVELAND was incorporated by Arthur G. MacDonald, Michael Madigan, and Ethan A. Ericksen on 8 May 1975 as the GEAR (Gay Educational and Awareness Resources) Foundation, Cleveland's first lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community organization. Its mission was to conduct research and educational activities in the area of human sexuality, to provide facilities and rehabilitative services for the homophile community in the areas of mental and physical health and social alternatives, and to provide endowment funding for qualifying homophile organizations, persons, and events.
The organization initially met in members' homes. By 1977 it acquired its first offices at Euclid Hts. and Coventry roads in CLEVELAND HTS. and was publishing Ohio's first gay newspaper, High Gear (est. 1975). After several additional moves, the GEAR Foundation relocated to W. 29th St. in 1987. In 1988 it changed is name to the Lesbian/Gay Community Service Center of Greater Cleveland. Increased support allowed the organization to hire its first executive director, Vincent Bluett, in 1983. Foundation funding and membership donations grew and supported a wide variety of programs in the 1980s and 1990s. These included a telephone hotline program, a calendar of events of interest to the gay/lesbian community, and outreach programs designed to combat homophobia in the larger community. In 1988 the center opened the Living Room program, which provided support to persons in the HIV spectrum, and in 1988 began the innovative PRYSM (Presence and Respect for Youth in Sexual Minority) which provides a forum and social support group for young gays and lesbians. In 1991 the center, in conjunction with the WESTERN RESERVE HISTORICAL SOCIETY, established the Northeast Ohio Lesbian/Gay Archives to collect and preserve the records of the lesbian/gay community. In 1995 Frank Lowery served as president of the center and Judith Rainbrook as its executive director.