The Staten Island AIDS Task Force, now Community Health Action of Staten Island (CHASI), opened its first office in this building at 25 Hyatt Street in 1988.
In the mid-1990s, it developed a special program to serve the LGBT community, Education on AIDS in a Gay & Lesbian Environment (EAGLE), housed in a ground floor storefront where the group provided information on HIV/AIDS and hosted workshops and social events. Eventually this initiative evolved into the independent LGBT Pride Center of Staten Island.
Credit: Christopher D. Brazee/NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project, 2019.
Staten Island AIDS Task Force EAGLE "Discussion Group" flyer, 1990s. Source: Archives of Sexuality and Gender.
Staten Island AIDS Task Force EAGLE Swoon flyer, 1990s. Source: Archives of Sexuality and Gender.
Staten Island AIDS Task Force EAGLE "Safe Space for Young People" flyer, 1990s. Source: Archives of Sexuality and Gender.
EAGLE newsletter, September 1, 1996. Source: Archives of Sexuality and Gender.
19-29 Hyatt Street, 2019. Photo by Gale Harris/NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project.
Storefront at 23 Hyatt Street, 2019. Photo by Gale Harris/NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project.
The Staten Island AIDS Task Force was formed in 1988. The only AIDS service organization on the Island at the time, it began with a staff of three and a handful of volunteers who occupied a small office on the fifth floor of this office building (accessed via the entrance at 25 Hyatt Street), which was erected in conjunction with the St. George Theater. With infections and deaths skyrocketing, the Task Force’s staff grew quickly. In November 1992, it leased the storefront at 29 Hyatt Street, adjacent to the theater entrance, as a temporary office. As soon as it opened, the storefront attracted a large number of passersby seeking information about AIDS. In December 1993, the Task Force moved its main offices to 42 Richmond Terrace, but kept the storefront at 29 Hyatt.
In 1995, the Task Force expanded its operations in this building, moving to a larger storefront at 23 Hyatt. It contained two subsidiary spaces, the “Living Room,” a meeting and gathering place, and the “Resource Room,” a library with treatment information and internet access. The increased space was needed for four new programs that had been developed by Ralph W. Vogel, Director of the Outreach and Volunteer Department. These included a Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual HIV Initiative, which was headed by Chris Bauer, an activist involved in Lambda Associates and Democratic politics. In 1996, the program’s name was changed to Education on AIDS in a Gay & Lesbian Environment (EAGLE).
EAGLE’s programs included weekly support group meetings for HIV+ gay men, monthly men’s and women’s discussion groups, a Transgender Friendship Circle, and LGBT-themed movie nights. Beginning in 1999, there were also twice-monthly “Teen Safe Space” meetings to provide social support to LGBTQ young adults. Periodic workshops focused on HIV/AIDS prevention and harm reduction and trained volunteers to do education and outreach in the LGBT community. EAGLE also partnered with Lambda Associates and other LGBT groups for special events, Pride celebrations, and political activities and distributed safer sex materials at o gay bars and other locations frequented by gay men. Its monthly newsletter, Eagle Update, described upcoming programs and provided a calendar of LGBT events on Staten Island.
After 2000, the Task Force moved its headquarters to an office building on Bay Street but retained its Hyatt Street storefront as one of three satellite offices. In 2004, the Task Force changed its name to Community Health Action of Staten Island (CHASI) to reflect an expansion in its services. By that point, EAGLE had become the LGBT Health and Wellness Program. It continued the community-building precedents set by EAGLE, organizing Rainbow Families of Staten Island, a support group for lesbian and gay parents, their children, and family members, in 2004 and sponsoring Staten Island’s first LGBT Pride March and Festival in 2005. In 2008, CHASI consolidated its services to the LGBT community by establishing the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Health Center at 25 Victory Boulevard. In 2010, this became the LGBT Community Center with Vogel as its executive director. Renamed the LGBT Pride Center of Staten Island, it became a fully independent organization, owned and operated by its LGBT members, in 2016.
This entry was written by project consultant Gale Harris.
“AIDS: Over 1,000 Islanders Diagnosed but Help Exists for Those Affected,” Staten Island Advance, April 17, 1994, G32.
“AIDS Storefront Center a Big Success, But Funding Is Uncertain,” Staten Island Advance, December 28, 1992, A11.
“AIDS Task Force Opens Its Doors for Education: Spotlights Many Services Available to Those in Need,” Staten Island Advance, October 17, 1995, A12.
“Bracing for ‘Second Tide’ of AIDS Cases: Prevention Educators Say Rates are Rising Again After Big Decline,” Staten Island Advance, May 22, 1995, B8.
Eagle Updates, 1996-2000, in the Gay, Bisexual, Lesbian and Transgender (GBLT) Community of Staten Island Collection, Staten Island Museum. [A number of issues have been digitized and are available online on the Archives of Sexuality and Gender website]
“It’s Been 20 Years since the AIDS Bomb Went Off,” Staten Island Advance, February 18, 2001, A19.
Jim Smith, “LGBTQ Community Center Now Gay-Owned and -Operated,” Staten Island Advance, April 15, 2016, A10.
“Organizations Offer Support to Those with Illnesses,” Staten Island Advance, April 25, 2000, G62.
“Ralph Vogel Retires as Pride Center Director: He Has Been Fighting for Equality for More Than 3 Decades,” Staten Island Advance, May 15, 2017, A3.
“Spotlight: Chris Bauer,” TNYA Spotlight, bit.ly/2WqxP1s.
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