The year was 1983. “Dallas” was on television, “Return of the Jedi” played at the movie theaters and Michael Jackson’s album “Thriller” dominated the radio. That was also the year when Resource Center got its start.
For over 38 years, the Center has provided programs of interest to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer/questioning (LGBTQ) community members and critical assistance to people living with HIV and AIDS and for their families. The programs of Resource Center promote understanding of the LGBTQ community and aim to eradicate the spread of HIV and AIDS.
The Center’s parent organization – the Dallas Gay Political Caucus, later known as the Dallas Gay and Lesbian Alliance – incorporated what was then called the Foundation for Human Understanding in June 1983. It was established with a focus on education and service, and a goal of achieving equality, recognition and equal rights for the gay and lesbian community in north Texas.
As HIV and AIDS arrived in North Texas, the Foundation mobilized to deal with the pandemic. In 1985, it established the AIDS Resource Center as a source for community awareness and prevention education, legal services, a food pantry, clothing, household goods and emergency funding.
In 1988, the Center established the Nelson-Tebedo Health Clinic for treatment, clinical drug trials and HIV testing. Today, Nelson-Tebedo also offers STD prevention and testing, medical case management, prevention and transgender health services.
After a fire damaged most of the Center’s facilities in 1989, the search was on to find a larger home. The Nelson-Tebedo Clinic and Food Pantry remained on Cedar Springs Road, while the rest of the organization moved into the former Metropolitan Community Church site on Reagan Street. It was renamed the John Thomas LGBT Community Center after the organization’s first executive director.
To recognize the history of and the struggle for LGBTQ rights in Dallas, the Phil Johnson Historic Archives and Research Library was established at the Community Center in 1994. The Library and Archives were transferred to the University of North Texas in 2012.
Nutritional services are available at the Center’s Health Campus on Reagan St. which include a food pantry and hot meals program. Also available at the Health Campus are HIV case management services and insurance services.
Dental services for people living with HIV/AIDS and meet the eligibility requirements outlined in Client Intake are available at Dental Health on Forest Lane.
In 1998, the Foundation for Human Understanding changed its name to Resource Center of Dallas, and in 2013 became Resource Center. Resource Center, a United Way agency, operates the John Thomas LGBT Community Center, named after the founding executive director, Behavioral Health, Dental Health, GenderBrave, Grupo Orgullo Hispano, Fuse, Harold Simmons Foundation Health Campus, Mental Health Counseling (SMU), Nelson-Tebedo, THRIVE, United Black Ellument, Women with Pride and Youth First. Through its health and medical services, the Center is a leader in HIV/AIDS education, prevention and services, and provides a full spectrum of STI prevention education, screenings and treatments.
More than 1,200 volunteers and a paid staff of over 70 make Resource Center one of the largest centers of its kind in the United States. More than 62,000 people each year use the Center through its programs and services. From its roots as an advocacy group for civil rights regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, the Center continues its mission: to develop programs and offer services for the LGBTQ community, as well as individuals and families affected by HIV and AIDS.