Mission and History


Spectrum is dedicated to engaging, empowering and advocating for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender people. We envision a Marin community where Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender people are welcomed, affirmed, supported and advocated for by all community members.  A community where it takes no special act of courage to live openly as a lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender person.


Spectrum began in 1982 as the Ministry of Light, founded by Presbyterians for Lesbian and Gay Concerns, and sponsored by three local Presbyterian churches. The original purpose was to provide nonjudgmental support to lesbian and gay people, and address homophobia.

Janie Spahr

Founded by Rev. Janie Spahr, Ministry of Light’s work led to the establishment of the Marin chapter of PFLAG (Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays). During this same time, the AIDS crisis was just beginning to become apparent among gay men in Marin County.

In 1984, Ministry of Light launched the Marin AIDS Support Network. Volunteers provided supportive counseling and HIV counseling and education to health care professionals and to the general public and established a 24-hour hotline. Marin AIDS Support Network became a separate entity in 1985 and subsequently was re-named Marin AIDS Project.

In 1992, the name of Ministry of Light was changed to Spectrum LGBT Center and the organization began to take on a social services and social change role on behalf of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people.

Though Spectrum is no longer affiliated with a particular religious institution, we recognize the organization’s interfaith heritage, and honor the effort of the Presbyterian Church to reach out to the LGBT community as early as it did.

The original programs of Spectrum included support groups for LGBT parents, an annual Family Camp for LGBT families, community education through a volunteer speakers bureau, individual counseling, and a weekly youth support group called Rainbow’s End.

In 1993, with major funding from Marin Community Foundation, Spectrum launched one of the first outreach and support services for lesbian and gay older adults in the country. Quickly, Senior Spectrum attracted hundreds of older adults, many of whom had no idea of each other’s existence.

Today, Spectrum has become a program of The Spahr Center, created by the merger of Spectrum and Marin AIDS Project in the spring of 2015. Spectrum remains the only program in Marin County dedicated to providing advocacy, support and services for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community. Though times have changed and there is greater acceptance and visibility of LGBT people, there is still great need and work to be done.