Located in the heart of Columbia, the Harriet Hancock LGBT Center is the hub of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender activity in the Midlands of South Carolina.

Our facility offers a variety of resources including a free lending library, meeting spaces for LGBT-supportive groups, and a directory of LGBT-friendly businesses, organizations, and counselors while also serving as the headquarters for the South Carolina Pride Movement. The resources provided at the Harriet Hancock LGBT Center are free and available to everyone during operating hours. These times may vary depending on the availability of center staff and volunteers. Check out the Calendar for our current schedule of meetings, events, and open hours.

The Harriet Hancock Center Foundation is organized as a nonprofit corporation and has been approved by the Internal Revenue Service as a tax-exempt organization under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code (Federal Tax ID# 57-0836466).The Harriet Hancock Center Foundation is also a registered charity with the Secretary of State of South Carolina. Please consult your tax adviser for the extent to which your contribution is tax deductible according to the law.

Mission & Vision

Mission Statement

The Harriet Hancock LGBT Center is a safe and inclusive home that supports, educates, and empowers the LGBT community, our allies, and our neighbors.

Vision for South Carolina

We have a vision for South Carolina where all people are accepted and affirmed, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, and LGBT people are able to live happy and healthy lives. The Harriet Hancock LGBT Center works to realize this vision in South Carolina, starting in the Greater Columbia community and Midlands region.

History of the Center

Our Location

The Harriet Hancock LGBT Center was originally founded by the Board of the South Carolina Gay & Lesbian Pride Movement (now known as the SC Pride Movement). The first community center opened in September 1993 at the corner of Rosewood Drive and South Shandon in Columbia, SC and was one of the first gay and lesbian community centers in the southeastern United States.

The converted house located at 1108 Woodrow Street in Columbia was purchased in August 1994 and volunteers promptly began renovations. The Center moved into the new building in September 1994 and our doors have been open ever since. A mortgage burning party was held in front of the Center on October 12, 2003 to celebrate that the final payment signified a first for our state – an LGBT community owned space in South Carolina.

As part of the anniversary celebration for the South Carolina Gay & Lesbian Pride Movement (SC Pride), a banquet was held on April 15, 2005. At that event, the Center was named in honor of longtime activist and co-founder of both SC Pride & the Center, Harriet Hancock.

Our Foundation

The Harriet Hancock Center Foundation, which oversees the Center’s daily operations and various community projects, was officially recognized by the IRS as a 501(c)3 non-profit organization in 1987 (originally known as the Gay & Lesbian Advocacy Research Project). In 2008, the Board of Directors voted for the organization to be renamed the Harriet Hancock Center Foundation.

Since 2008, the Center has received over $75,000 in grants from local community foundations, city and county awards, and nationally recognized progressive and LGBTQ foundations. To learn more about our funding, visit our Sponsors page.

Our Founder

For almost three decades, Columbia attorney and activist Harriet Hancock has been a force for social and cultural change in our state. She is a tireless advocate for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people and their families in South Carolina. LGBTQ+ people in this state have often faced an indifferent if not hostile climate. Harriet is a steadfast advocate and volunteer, working to change that climate.

Harriet is a founder or co-founder for four state organizations that have made South Carolina a better place for gays, lesbians, their families, and people living with AIDS. In founding these organizations, she not only worked to make this state a more hospitable community for the LGBTQ+ individuals and people living with AIDS, she also helped to build the state’s LGBTQ+ communities by helping to create viable and visible public forums for advocacy, education, and support. In 1982, not long after her son came out to her, Harriet founded the Columbia chapter of Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) – the first PFLAG chapter in South Carolina. She soon became a quite visible and active public spokesperson, combating prejudices and stereotypes on Columbia talk radio, writing letter after letter to state news media responding to the homophobic attitudes then commonplace in public conversations about AIDS and LGBT people. She remains one of PFLAG’s strongest figures and still continues to meet with parents of LGBT youth who come out to them. In 1985, with three other people, Harriet co-founded Palmetto AIDS Life Support Services (PALSS), which has become the primary AIDS service organization of the Midlands. As our state and region continues to rank among the worst for rates of HIV infection, PALSS has become a critical support organization, reaching across diverse sexual, cultural, and racial populations. Harriet continues to work to prevent new HIV infections in the Midlands, serving on the Advisory Board for the Center’s project YEAH! – Youth Empowered Against HIV! In 1989, after a gay and lesbian community picnic, Harriet and a small group of gay and lesbian South Carolinians organized the first South Carolina Gay and Lesbian Pride March. As the march moved from an annual event to an organization working on LGBT issues, the name changed to the Gay and Lesbian Pride Movement (GLPM), now known as the SC Pride Movement. Harriet was also part of the group who facilitated GLPM’s purchase of the building that would become the state’s first Gay and Lesbian Community Center.

In 1991, Harriet worked with the Greater Columbia Community Relations Council ad hoc Committee on Civil Rights for Lesbians and Gays. As a result of that committee’s work, the City of Columbia includes sexual orientation in its nondiscrimination employment policy and the work of that committee was the inspiration for the Human Rights Ordinance passed by both the City of Columbia and Richland County councils in recent years. In 1997, Harriet received the Equality Award from the Human Rights Campaign, the largest national LGBT organization in the US. During the years 1997-2000, Harriet also served on the board of the South Carolina Progressive Network, a coalition of over 30 state organizations devoted to social, economic, and environmental justice.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA & HARRIET HANCOCK

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA & HARRIET HANCOCK

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA & HARRIET HANCOCK

In 2011, Harriet received a personal invitation from President Barak Obama to attend a reception at the White House in Washington, DC in honor of LGBT Pride Month. Harriet attended the reception with 5 others from South Carolina and several hundred leaders from around the nation. Harriet was one of only 12 national leaders selected to meet the President in a private session before his public speech. Harriet remains active with the LGBT Center which bares her name as Vice-President of the Harriet Hancock Center Foundation and was elected to the Board of the SC Pride Movement for 2012. We affectionately call her “Mother of Pride,” or “Mama H”, and she truly is a surrogate mother to many of us who have lost our families and friends because of who we are and who we love.


Board of Directors


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Chuck Archie
President of the Board

Born and raised in rural northwestern Tennessee, Chuck Archie currently resides in downtown Columbia and works as a realtor for Asset Realty. He earned a management degree before working for Kroger and, later, Harris Teeter, the latter of which brought him to South Carolina in 1988. He was married once and has two adult children, both of whom are married and residing in the Columbia area. Additionally, he is a proud “Papa Chuck” to three grandchildren. After leaving the grocery business in 1991, Chuck worked in the mortgage industry for over 20 years. Chuck has served as the President of the SC Gay and Lesbian Business Guild, on the board of the AIDS Benefit Foundation of SC, Columbia Chamber of Commerce, and the Elmwood Park Neighborhood Association. More recently, he has served on the board of Transitions and has helped coordinate the newly organized Midlands Mens Chorus. Chuck is an avid Gamecock sports fan but also enjoys traveling, having been to 47 states and 23 countries. He loves the outdoors, Broadway, and spending time with friends and family. Contact Chuck via email at President@LGBTCenterSC.org.


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Jack Turner
Vice President

Jack Turner, retired from Information Systems Technology with over 20+ years experience. Jack is a practiced musician, and an excellent cook - always bringing something delicious to the Center’s potluck -always homemade, most always from scratch. In addition to serving as Vice President, Jack is program leader for GAYARP. Jack can be reached at gayarp@lgbtcentersc.org


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Alex Field
Secretary

Alex Field has lived in the Columbia area since 2015 working as an engineer and a project manager. Alex graduated with a BS in Industrial & Management Engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in NY. Alex has been volunteering at the Harriet Hancock Center since 2018 and also serves as the Progam Coordinator for Bi+Space, you can reach him at BiSpace@HarrietHancockCenter.org


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Melissa Neely, Esq.
Member at Large

Melissa Neely is a patent and trademark attorney located in Columbia. Prior to becoming an attorney Melissa worked as an engineer for over twenty years in the specialty chemical industry. She graduated with a B.S. in Chemical Engineering from West Virginia University in 1984 and received her Juris Doctor in Law from Indiana University School of Law – Indianapolis in 2008. Melissa and her wife, Dr. Laura Hein, have resided in Columbia since 2008.


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Dayna Smith
Member at Large

Dayna Smith has lived in Columbia, SC since 1997 and is originally from Brevard, NC. Dayna attended Appalachian State University where she received a BS and then attended the University of South Carolina and received an IMA. Dayna currently works for a health insurance company, but in her spare time she performs as a spoken word artist/slam poet under the stage name Alley Cat. Dayna is actively involved at the Harriet Hancock Center in Columbia, SC. For more information, you can contact Dayna at TransSupport@HarrietHancockCenter.org.


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Tim Bupp, Pastor
Member at Large

Pastor Tim Bupp was named pastor of Reformation Lutheran Church on August 14, 2013. Born in a small town in western Pennsylvania and raised by a single mother, Pastor Bupp graduated high school in 1975. Following in the footsteps of his father and grandfather, he began working at the steel mill and became involved at a local Lutheran church, first with the youth group, then a confirmation teacher, a liturgical assistant, and a lay supply preacher prior to pursuing the ministry full-time. Pastor Bupp completed his undergraduate studies at Slippery Rock University while continuing to work full time at the steel mill. 


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Eddie Thompson
Member at Large

A longtime volunteer and advocate for Harriet Hancock Center, Eddie Thompson and his partner have lived in Columbia since 2008. He has worked at all levels of government and has lived in 6 different states. Additionally, Eddie has hands-on experience working for a large nonprofit in Oregon. He loves the Center, its people, good food, and hugs.


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Alvin McEwen
Member at Large

Alvin McEwen is an African-American gay man who resides in Columbia, SC. McEwen’s blog, Holy Bullies and Headless Monsters, and his writings have been mentioned by numerous sources. In addition, he is a past contributor to Pam’s House Blend and a present contributor to Justice For All, Daily Kos, the Huffington Post, LGBTQ Nation, and Alternet.org. He is the 2007 recipient of the Harriet Daniels Hancock Volunteer of the Year Award, the 2010 recipient of the Order of the Pink Palmetto from the SC Pride Movement, and the 2009 recipient of the Audre Lorde/James Baldwin Civil Rights Activist Award from SC Black Pride. Alvin is a three-time nominee of the Ed Madden Media Advocacy Award from SC Pride.


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Jessica Jarman-Hayes, M.Ed
Member at Large

Originally from Florida, Jessica Jarman-Hayes graduated with a Master's Degree in Mental Health Counseling in 2014. Prior to moving to Columbia, she worked with LGBTQIA+ adolescents and adults in Florida's largest domestic violence center. Currently, she is in private practice as an LGBTQIA+ therapist in Columbia. Jessica joined the Harriet Hancock Center as its Youth OUTLOUD Coordinator in 2016 and resigned in 2019 to step up as the YouthOUTLOAD board representative. For more information, you can contact Jessica at YOL@HarrietHancockCenter.org


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Elizabeth Houck
Member at Large

Elizabeth Rosa Houck is an interdisciplinary artist and activist from Columbia, South Carolina. Elizabeth is an alum of the University of South Carolina and holds degrees in both theatre and psychology. She is an actor, poet, and installation artist, who dabbles in herbalism and natural wellness. Most recently, Elizabeth co-founded De Ambiente, the newest group at the Harriet Hancock LGBT Center, which aims to build community Queer Latinx folks living in and around South Carolina. In her free time, Elizabeth enjoys basking in sunshine, watching horror movies, and adventuring any chance she gets.


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Dana Mapson
Member at Large

Dana Mapson has been living in Columbia since August of 2013. In that time she has been active within the LGBT community through SC Pride, first as a volunteer, then Executive Board member and currently as an Action Board Member. Dana comes from Cleveland, Ohio where her experience included over 10 years of social service employment as a paraprofessional, and ministry through chaplaincy and seminary. Dana holds a BA in Communications (organizational and interpersonal) from Hampton University, Hampton, VA, and an MAPT (Master of Arts in Practical Theology) with a concentration in Counseling from Ashland Seminary, Ashland, Ohio.
Dana is currently employed with Richland Library working at the Northeast Branch on Parklane. Richland Library in an inclusive work environment that also strives to be inclusive with our customer base and community involved. While with the Library system Dana has worked to make connections between the LGBT community and library. She recently made it possible for library administrators, SC
Pride, HHC staff, and Mom Hugs Columbia to sit down together and discuss various possibilities for partnership. Creating and nourishing community contacts is a skill that Dana carries from her years in social services. Dana also made connections with the library’s Outreach Department and the Harriet Hancock Center. Dana has a goal to support and unify various organizations within the LGBT community in order to improve advocacy and education within the LGBT community and community at large.


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Harriet Hancock
Founder, Board Emeritus

Harriet Hancock is an attorney practicing in the Columbia area. She is the proud mother of three, one of whom is a gay son who came out to her in the very early 80’s. She started the Columbia Chapter of Parents Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) in 1982. She is a co-founder of Palmetto Aids Life Support Services of South Carolina in 1985 and a co-founder of the South Carolina Gay and Lesbian Pride Movement (SCGLPM) in 1990. She was instrumental in acquiring the Harriet Hancock Center in 1994. Contact Harriet via email at Founder@LGBTCenterSC.org.