News & Stories

Happy Always, from Elliot and Roger 305 305

Happy Always, from Elliot and Roger

A little over two years ago, we had the idea of starting a Foundation with the goal of supporting nonprofit organizations that offer programs and services addressing the needs of the most vulnerable in our diverse LGBTQ+ community. We knew that, no matter the level, every single gesture of support can make a tremendous difference to so many community-based organizations. We believe that even more passionately today. We’ve had the privilege of meeting amazing leaders and advocates from over a dozen states, and learning about the ways in which they all work to protect the safety, equality, and well-being of our community. We are grateful for their activism, and proud to count them as partners in this work. What we didn’t necessarily foresee is just how personal this work would be. We have both led rewarding lives. We’ve had our ups and downs, but always managed to persevere and thrive through a combination of wits and luck. And with a little help from our friends. Friends like the City University of New York, which offered opportunities for future success for a young Jewish kid from Brooklyn. Friends like the fine people at Congregation Beit Simchat Torah (CBST), colloquially known as…

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Celebrating LGBTQ+ Native Americans 326 315

Celebrating LGBTQ+ Native Americans

As we gather with family and friends to celebrate Thanksgiving this year, let us also celebrate and honor our country’s rich indigenous history and experience as part of Native American Heritage Month. While we have made some progress in decolonizing Thanksgiving and at least acknowledging the decimation of native people by early Europeans, LGBTQ+ Native Americans are too often sidelined and invisible in the narrative of queer culture. Just as LGBTQ+ History Month is an opportunity to celebrate all facets of our shared experience, including its intersections with Native culture, Native American Heritage Month lets us do the same from an LGBTQ+ perspective. Our LGBTQ+ experience simply would not be the same without the contributions and impact of so many LGBTQ+ Native Americans. Here are some very diverse examples. While Pete Puttigieg made headlines and history in his trailblazing presidential primary, LGBTQ+ Native Americans have quietly been making historic strides of their own in the political arena. In 2018, for example, Chelsey Branham became the first openly-LGBTQ+ member of the Chickasaw Nation to be elected to the Oklahoma House of Representatives, and in 2020, Stephanie Byers’s election to the Kansas House of Representatives made her the first transgender Native American…

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Elections Matter—More Than Ever! 306 306

Elections Matter—More Than Ever!

They’re still counting to the very last vote in some places, but at this point it has become clear that some of the most dire predictions about this year’s midterm elections have not come to pass. Bucking historical trends, President Biden may end up with a slightly larger Democratic majority in the U.S. Senate, with the GOP poised to retake the House only by a razor-thin margin. Considering what the outcome may have been, the Democrats are counting this as a major win. For most of the LGBTQ+ community, it is a narrow escape from certain disaster. This summer, after the conservative-leaning Supreme Court overturned decades of precedent protecting a woman’s right to choose to have a baby or not, Justice Thomas sent a clear signal that precedents protecting the right to privacy in our sex lives and the right to marriage equality were potential next targets. Having leaders in the executive and legislative branches of government dedicated to protecting those rights is crucial. Already this week, we’ve been pleased to see the Senate take initial action on a bill known as the Respect for Marriage Act, which would preemptively codify protections for people in same-sex marriages (and interracial marriages,…

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Exploring LGBTQ+ Identity and Race 366 284

Exploring LGBTQ+ Identity and Race

One of our core priorities at the Leonard Litz LGBTQ+ Foundation is Racial Justice. We are proud to support programs and services that specifically address the inequalities faced by LGBTQ+ people of color. So supporting this new fellowship from the Washngton Blade Foundation was a natural fit. The LGBTQ+ community is not a monolith, but rather a cosmic rainbow of intersecting identities. This fellowship helps to explore and spread awareness of this diversity by supporting journalism that focuses on stories at the intersection of LGBTQ+ identities and race. Our struggles are impossible to separate—quite literally for many people. Let’s not forget, people of color were the ones leading the fight at Stonewall. We cannot build a whole future if we only tell half our history. The Blade has already welcomed its inaugural fellow, Brandie Bland, whose first story, copied below, examines the unique challenges faced by communities of color when it comes to coming out of the closet. “The visibility of queer sexuality in Black culture can be traced back to the Harlem Renaissance, where literature and music were full of stories about lived queer experiences,” writes Brandie. “And non-binary identities have always been visible and integrated in some communities…

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Grantee Spotlight: Odyssey Teen Camp 436 327

Grantee Spotlight: Odyssey Teen Camp

This summer, our friends at Odyssey Teen Camp invited the Leonard Litz team to visit their campground, meet some campers, and learn more about the work being done to create a welcoming and inclusive environment for all young people, regardless of gender identity or sexual orientation. It was a  heartwarming opportunity to see in person so many teenagers being themselves and just having fun. We arrived just as some campers were building the stage and making preparations for that night’s improv show. We rode golf carts throughout the beautiful campground, which features multiple entertainment and activity spaces, a wooded amphitheater, and an expansive lake for water sports and swimming. The mission of Odyssey teen Camp is to provide teenagers with a safe and loving place to express themselves, exactly as they are. For LGBTQ+ youth, this experience can be life-changing, and sometimes even life-saving. After seeing the joy and positivity radiating from every face, we at the Leonard Litz LGBTQ+ Foundation remain grateful for their efforts to make a meaningful difference in the lives of so many young people.

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In the News: LLF Names First Advocacy Fund Recipient 396 326

In the News: LLF Names First Advocacy Fund Recipient

In case you missed the news: The Leonard Litz LGBTQ+ Foundation is proud to name the first recipient from our new LGBTQ+ Advocacy Fund, and it’s a familiar name: CenterLink. Their application was a perfect fit. Our Foundation was created to help LGBTQ+ people achieve their full potential by supporting nonprofit organizations of all sizes that advance the interests and well-being of our community, particularly the most vulnerable in our community, including people of color and the transgender community. CenterLink’s ActionLink program helps LGBTQ+ community centers and other LGBTQ-friendly organizations navigate 501(c)(3) policy and advocacy issues at local, state, and national levels. Most nonprofit organizations want to do policy work but don’t have the funding or staff to do it. ActionLink gives them the tools to focus on advocacy, education, and organization in a meaningful and effective way. We are incredibly proud to partner with CenterLink in this important work. Our strength is in our numbers, and this level of coordinated advocacy is more necessary now than ever. Please see the text of the press release below: Leonard-Litz LGBTQ+ Foundation Approves Multi-Year Grant to Support CenterLink’s Advocacy Program Fort Lauderdale, FL – CenterLink, the world’s largest LGBTQ community-based association, today…

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LLF Adds New Grants in Q2 264 233

LLF Adds New Grants in Q2

The Leonard Litz LGBTQ+ Community Grant continued to support nonprofit organizations of all sizes in Q2. Our Trustees are both humbled and inspired by the passion and advocacy these organizations and the individuals who work for them show for the LGBTQ+ community. Their work is important and impactful, and we are thrilled to be be able to partner with them from a funding perspective. Click below to learn more about each organization: Bayard Rustin Community Center Bethel Pride Bradbury Sullivan Community Center Brooklyn Community Pride Center City Lights Gallery Darien Pride Easton Pride EDGE New Jersey The Gay and Lesbian Review Hugh Lane Wellness Foundation J.O.Y. Baltimore Maine Family Planning Middletown Pride Out in the Open OutCT PrideWorks Ridgefield Pride Stamford Pride Triangle Community Center Washington Blade Foundation Westport Pride YouthPride The Leonard Litz Foundation is committed to helping LGBTQ+ people fulfill their true potential, and we  look forward to further opportunities to engage more nonprofit LGBTQ+ organizations in our shared mission of protecting and expanding the safety, equality, and well-being of our community. Click here for a full list of previous grantees.

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LLF Supports CT Pride Coalition 323 334

LLF Supports CT Pride Coalition

In conjunction with Circle Care Center, the Leonard Litz LGBTQ+ Foundation was incredibly proud to support a Coalition of Pride Celebrations in southwestern Connecticut this year. In what we plan to be an annual collaboration, eight different Pride groups came together to build relationships among representatives from different towns, and to identify ways to collaborate even more in the future. Connecticut has never been gayer! We are grateful to the following organizations, whose members worked tirelessly, often without much recognition, to bring a sense of Pride and inclusion to their respective communities: Bethel Pride Bridgeport Pride Darien Pride Easton Pride Ridgefield Pride Stamford Pride Triangle Community Center Westport Pride We had a chance to attend many of the diverse Pride events throughout the month of June, including a fun and joyous flag raising festival in Elliot and Roger’s hometown of Easton. There will be lots of pictures and videos to come, but for now, it’s safe to say we can hardly wait for Pride 2023, when we can continue to make the CT Pride Coalition bigger, better, and GAYER than ever!

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Roe, Roe, Roe your VOTE! 229 305

Roe, Roe, Roe your VOTE!

It’s been a tough few weeks at the Supreme Court, particularly if you are not a straight, white, cisgendered man. Besides the setbacks to federal environmental protections and gun safety regulations at the state level, the horrific decision in the Dobbs case that essentially overturned the constitutional right to abortion is a vicious attack on women’s health. The going wisdom is that LGBTQ+ rights may well be next, but in fact, this ruling affects anyone with a uterus, including many members of the LGBTQ+ community. The attack has already begun. It is not unimaginable with this current court, of course, that other precedents we’ve taken for granted, such as the right to privacy in our sex lives or the right to marriage equality, could be in danger. Justice Thomas all but laid out the game-plan in his concurring opinion. It’s very easy to be discouraged and demoralized right now. But there is also reason to hope. The truth is, there are more of us than there are of them. We are all in this fight together. Women. LGBTQ+ people. Immigrants. Any minority whose rights are under assault. None of us is free until all of us are free. But we…

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PRIDE More Than Ever 407 306

PRIDE More Than Ever

Another June has come and gone, but we know that Pride is forever. Pride is past, present, and future. And, increasingly, Pride seems to be a matter of life or death. We  live in a world of uncertainty. Deadly conflict wages in Europe (and Africa. And Asia. And right here in the U.S.). We’ve come a long way with vaccines and boosters, but we’re not quite out of the COVID-woods yet. And renewed attacks across the county, and, yes, even here in Connecticut, have once again put the LGBTQ+ community in the cross-hairs of political culture wars, targeting the most vulnerable among us: our children. Yet one thing remains certain: we will always have each other’s backs. Here at the Leonard Litz LGBTQ+ Foundation, we know that our rights don’t always come without a fight. We’re here to fight. With you. Beside you. Supporting the hundreds of nonprofit community LGBTQ+ organizations that make their little corners of the world safe, more inclusive, and more welcoming. There is a CT-based artist whose motto is Love More Than Ever. We’d like to inspiration from him and suggest that what we need now is Pride More Than Ever. Be unabashedly proud. Be loud…

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