Connecticut Outreach Society
NEW Phone Number (2/18/2019)!
Compiled by Michelle Kay
The Connecticut Outreach Society was founded in July 1989. It grew out of, and was originally called the ConnecticuTView. Denise Mason founded the original ConnecticuTView in 1985. It was mainly a correspondence club, with no regular meetings, no dues, and no activities, except for an occasional bar outing or house party for those daring enough to be seen in public. There was a monthly newsletter and an annually updated membership list. At that time, most communication was by snail mail, since few people had personal computers./
In the Spring of 1989, Denise Mason made a plea for help. Several members stepped forward to form an Advisory Council. Those members were Corine, Judy, Lisa Duncan, Jill, Daphne, Lynn and Michelle Kay. A meeting of the Advisory Council was held on July 25, 1989 at Judy’s house. It was decided to become an active, rather than passive, organization. The first officers were elected as follows:
Executive Director: Corine
The newly reorganized organization initially retained the name: “The ConnecticuTView”. Annual dues were set at $20.00. Efforts were under way to find a secure, permanent meeting place. A new policy was established for articles and photos in the newsletter. There would be no sexually explicit content or pictures, Judy expressed the policy in these words: “I would like this publication to be of a quality that I would not be embarrassed if an uninformed friend happened to read it.”
In August of 1990, Lynn found a suitable meeting place in West Hartford. The first meeting was held there on the second Saturday night of September 1990. The guest speaker was famed gender photographer Mariette Pathy Allen, who presented a slide show of her photographs of transgendered individuals. At that time she had been taking pictures of the gender community for over 12 years, and had published a book, “Transformations” containing pictures and stories of the transgendered population. In November of 1990, a second meeting was added on the fourth Wednesday of each month for the benefit of those members who could not get out on Saturday nights. There were also monthly board meetings on the second Wednesday of each month.
An important component of the new organization was outreach. Lynn volunteered to be Outreach Director. She formulated plans for presentations by members at local colleges and universities, helping other cross dressers come out of the closet, reaching out to those who live with a cross dresser, and reaching out to mental health professionals, psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, and medical professionals. Over the ensuing years presentations were made to classes at the University of Connecticut, University of Hartford, Eastern Connecticut State University, and Trinity College. Presentations also were made to the Association of Social Workers, the State Police Officers Association and annually at True Colors Weekend. Elaine Tee, Corine Klewer, Michelle Kay, Lynn, Mary Anne, Kara and Audrey, among others, volunteered to make the outreach program a success.
In January of 1990 the members voted to change the name to “The Connecticut Outreach Society”, to better reflect the new direction of the club. A Constitution and By Laws were adopted shortly thereafter. In May of 1991 the name of the newsletter was changed from “The ConnecticuTView” to “The Outreach News” and has remained so ever since then.
Michelle Kay established a couples group in December of 1990, and the first meeting was held January 19, 1991. Nine couples attended that first meeting at Michelle’s house. It was decided to meet monthly on the fourth Saturday at member’s homes on a rotating basis. The Couples Group continued for about three years, but has never been reactivated.
In December of 1991, the election of officers was held by mail. The officers elected were:
Executive Director: Billie Jo
On May 22, 1992 the first Southern Meeting was held at the Triangle Community Center in Norwalk in an effort to better serve our members in southern Connecticut and New York. By May of 1992, there were 100 members. Many were still in the closet, but attendance at regular meetings in West Hartford averaged thirty or more members. Over the years there were excellent guest presenters, including a doctor, Ariadne Kane, a Mary Kay Rep., Pearl’s Wig World, Irene’s Lingerie, Stephanie and Karen from the Tiffany Club. Canon Clinton Jones, Susan Craig, a rep from Merle Norman.
In 1993 Elaine Tee was elected Executive Director. She served with distinction until 1997. Kara was elected Executive Director in 1998 and served through December 2001. Julie K. was elected Executive Director in 2002 and Diana in 2004. Staci Hunter has been Editor of “The Outreach News” for two stints, and turned over the Editor position to LeeAnne who continues to publish an outstanding newsletter each month, although now it is circulated over the internet. Andrea served as Treasurer for many years, until she resigned and was replaced by Roxanne. Both have done a commendable job keeping the finances of the club in proper order. Michelle Kay served as Executive Secretary from 1995 until 2009.
The first annual Awards Banquet was held May 17, 1997 at the Marriott Hotel in Rocky Hill. Nearly 40 COS members and guests attended. Corine was presented with the Long Term Service Award, Kara with the Miss Congeniality Award and Pat, Most Improved Award. The past editors of the Newsletter (Judy, Doris and Wendy) were also recognized. The keynote speaker was Alison Laing, Executive Director of the International Foundation for Gender Education (IFGE). Annual Awards Banquets have been held every year since.