Photo Credit to: William J. Mann

For Mental Health Awareness Month 2023 we’re partnering with the Connecticut Historical Society and taking it way back every Thursday with #ThrowbackThursday to share a few stories of how people faced life’s challenges throughout history.

“Mental Illness befalls us, but we are not helpless victims in its grip. We have the responsibility to help ourselves, to accept help, and to offer it to those in need. There’s help–and hope–to sustain us.”- Dr. Harold I. Schwartz, Psychiatrist-in-Chief Emeritus

Victor F. D’Lugin was born in 1945 to working class parents in New York. He received his master’s degree and doctorate in political philosophy from New York University before teaching at Fordham University and Manhattan College. In his earlier years, D’Lugin worked with the National Judicial Education Project of the National Organization for Women. He became a champion of the rights of women and minorities.

In the late 1970’s, D’Lugin moved to Connecticut where he worked as a professor. D’Lugin was a teacher, not only in the classrooms of the University of Hartford, where he served as a professor of political philosophy until his retirement in 1995, but throughout his life and within his endeavors. He served on the boards of the Connecticut AIDS Action Council, the Connecticut Coalition for Lesbian and Gay Civil Rights, The Greater Hartford HIV Action Initiative and the Hartford Gay and Lesbian Health Collective.

Photo Credit to: William J. Mann

D’Lugin had long been involved in activism, with the goal to show the connections between forms of oppression, “I have been forced to realize that I must deal with the issues of race, class, ethnicity, and sex. What I demand most in my life,” he said in 1991, on the steps of the State Capitol on Gay Pride Day, the day he came out publicly as HIV-positive for the first time, “is a fundamental respect for who I am. Yet I have no right to demand respect from others unless I am prepared to give respect to others based on who they are.”

In 1995 D’Lugin retired from his position at the University of Hartford due to AIDS-related health problems, and moved to Proviencetown, Massachusetts. He eventually passed here on August 13, 1996.

D’Lugin found comfort in his community, “The moment we cease to hold each other,” Victor had said, “the moment we lose faith in one another, the darkness engulfs us and the light goes out.” Then he added: “The moment I let a friend hold my hand, the light engulfed me.”


Be a part of MHC’s history of supporting Connecticut residents for over 100 years, set up a fundraising page or making a donation today!

Stay in touch with us on social media @mentalhealthct and keep up with our blog posts so you don’t miss a #ThrowbackThursday in May!

Learn more about the faces of resilience by checking out the virtual tour of the Connecticut Historical Society exhibit, “Common Struggle, Individual Experience: An Exhibition About Mental Health”

Intro label to the exhibit:

The people in this exhibition faced the challenges of mental health. Some left fragments of a story, like letters or diaries, that only hint at their personal struggles. Others are boldly sharing their story today. Some found help. Some found healing. Some struggled till the end. Some changed history.