News & Stories

The Greatest Bridgeport Pride 361 307

The Greatest Bridgeport Pride

This summer, volunteers with the Greater Bridgeport Pride Committee came together to put on the city’s biggest and boldest Pride celebration ever. The weekend-long affair featured a Pride March, live performances, food trucks, art exhibits, a variety show, and a cabaret extravaganza. We at the Leonard Litz LGBTQ+ Foundation were thrilled to both support and attend. Bridgeport is Connecticut’s largest city, home to a history as colorful and diverse as its people. Unfortunately, in one of the wealthiest counties in the United States, Bridgeport too often stands out for the wrong reasons. Relatively high rates of poverty. Under-resourced public services. Questionable political leaders. Yet none of this was on display during Pride. It was a celebration not just of the vibrant LGBTQ+ community there, but of the City of Bridgeport itself. Yes, there are urgent and critical needs in the city, but those are not seen as liabilities. They are opportunities. Folks have long talked about the lack of a dedicated space serving the Greater Bridgeport LGBTQ+ community. Now the time has come to make it happen. In July, the Leonard Litz LGBTQ+ Foundation announced a commitment to partner with members of the Greater Bridgeport Pride Committee to establish the…

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Victory for Transgender Rights 405 286

Victory for Transgender Rights

In 2021 and 2022, the Leonard Litz LGBTQ+ Foundation awarded grants to the ACLU of Connecticut to help fund its civil rights case on behalf of Veronica-May Clark, an incarcerated person suing the CT Department of Corrections on the grounds that they had failed to treat her gender dysphoria for years. We firmly believe that Trans Rights are Human Rights, even if—or especially if—a person is incarcerated. These kinds of civil rights lawsuits can often snail their way through the court system, with both sides filing a variety of motions to make their case. Happily, in September 2023, in a comprehensive ruling, Judge Vanessa Bryant found in favor of Ms. Clark. While the decision has been appealed by the state, this decision means that Ms. Clark is one step closer to getting the critical care that she needs. This is an important example of how the Leonard Litz Advocacy Fund is intended to be used to help support specific projects aimed at advancing progress for LGBTQ+ people broadly. Ms. Clark’s case will affect not only her own healthcare, but will hopefully help ensure that every single LGBTQ+ person in Connecticut is treated with dignity and equity. Bravo to Ms. Clark,…

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Help Some Happy Campers! 436 327

Help Some Happy Campers!

Each year, Odyssey Teen Camp provides hundreds of LGBTQ+ teenagers with a space where they can feel safe to be themselves, make lifelong friends, explore their creativity, laugh a lot, and find compassion for themselves and for others. This is the kind of experience and community that helps young people navigate their lives with more ease, hope, and happiness. But Odyssey cannot succeed in this mission without your help! As a non-profit camp, Odyssey relies on donations to operate. And thanks to a matching grant from The Leonard Litz LGBTQ+ Foundation, you have a chance to double your support. Every dollar raised up to $40,000 will be matched 100%. Please click here to help Odyssey Teen Camp continue to offer a summer program that gives young people an outlet to be exactly who they are. Any contribution is appreciated, and goes a long way to help LGBTQ+ youth feel as welcome and celebrated as they all deserve to be.

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Freedom (of Speech) Fighter 435 412

Freedom (of Speech) Fighter

The National Coalition Against Censorship (NCAC) may not seem like the typical organization we tend to support here at the Leonard Litz LGBTQ+ Foundation. But in fact, in a global climate where ominous levels of hate speech, discrimination, and violence have fueled an understandable impulse to censor hateful ideas and to “cancel” hateful speakers, our Foundation’s mission to uplift and empower the people whom words often seek to disparage hopefully demonstrates that even a small expression of love and support can go a long way toward countering even the most insidious hate. That is the sentiment expressed by none other than Nadine Strossen, recipient of the Judy Blume Lifetime Achievement Award for Free Speech at the 2023 NCAC Benefit: Let Me Speak. The John Marshall Harlan II Professor of Law Emerita at New York Law School, first female President of the American Civil Liberties Union (1991-2008), and a Senior Fellow with the Foundation for Individual Rights and Education, Nadine is a leading expert and frequent speaker/media commentator on constitutional law and civil liberties, who has testified before Congress on multiple occasions. She serves on the advisory boards of the ACLU, Academic Freedom Alliance, Heterodox Academy, National Coalition Against Censorship, and…

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LLF Goes Back to School 459 315

LLF Goes Back to School

Elliot and Roger have shared previously about the personal fulfillment they get from the Leonard Litz LGBTQ+ Foundation’s partnership with the City University of New York (CUNY). As a CUNY graduate himself, Elliot is thrilled to be able to help expand access and opportunity to LGBTQ students who are poised to become future leaders. So it was a real treat when Elliot was invited to be a guest speaker, along with our Executive Director Colin Hosten, as part of the “Conversations in Leadership” series at The Colin Powell School for Civic and Global Leadership housed at City College. Moderated by Dean Andrew Rich and attended by a several dozen students, the conversation focused on LGBTQ+ Advocacy. Both Elliot and Colin shared their personal and professional perspectives on what it means to be an effective advocate, but, unsurprisingly, it was the students who shined with their thoughtful questions and comments about how they could make a difference in the world. As Elliot said, it’s all about being able to recognize and seize opportunities. The rest is a lot of hard work, and a little bit of luck. Huge thank you to the CUNY staff and students for inviting us to be…

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Our Family is Growing! 261 275

Our Family is Growing!

The Leonard Litz LGBTQ+ Family has added a new member! We are pleased to announce the addition of our newest Trustee, Anthony Crisci. Anthony may be new to Leonard Litz, but he is practically a household name in Connecticut. He is the President and CEO of Circle Care Center (CCC), a healthcare organization based in Norwalk, CT, with a mission of providing affordable, accessible, and inclusive LGBTQ+ affirming and sex-positive primary care and sexual health services. Anthony joins the Foundation at an opportune moment, just as we are partnering with members of the Greater Bridgeport Pride Committee to establish a permanent Pride Center in Bridgeport. Before working at CCC, Anthony served as the first-ever Executive Director of Triangle Community Center (TCC), where he grew the organization to six full-time staff and expanded its programs and services to offer case management, financial assistance, and housing navigation for the LGBTQ+ community during his five-year tenure. Anthony grew up in Norwalk, CT, and is passionate about his time working at both TCC and CCC, creating new programs and services to make Norwalk and greater Fairfield County a better place to live for LGBTQ+ people of all ages.  In his free time, Crisci enjoys…

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Taking Conference Calls 382 284

Taking Conference Calls

This past February, members of the Leonard Litz team traveled to San Francisco to attend the Creating Change Conference, hosted by The National LGBTQ Task Force. It is one of the most comprehensive gatherings of LGBTQ+ leaders and advocates across the rainbow spectrum, and provided a valuable opportunity for us to amplify our work among leaders and organizations working on effective community-building and LGBTQ advocacy, With that in mind, we recently took part in two other noteworthy conferences. Unity Through Diversity was hosted in Albany, NY, this Fall by our very own Leonard Litz grantee, In Our Own Voices. The conference seeks to center and empower LGBTQIA+ BIPOC communities by convening a diverse group of people from across the country to discuss topics related to health, wellness, and social justice disparities among queer communities of color. In addition to learning about new, data-driven ways to support these communities, the Leonard Litz LGBTQ+ Foundation was proud to sponsor scholarship packages that helped expand access to attendees with financial restraints. In September, Executive Director Colin Hosten traveled to the Dominican Republic to take part in the Opportunity Collaboration, a summit “focused on solutions to global poverty and injustice.” As the Foundation continues…

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Pride and Prejudice. And Gratitude. 383 327

Pride and Prejudice. And Gratitude.

What are you thankful for this year? For too many LGBTQ+ people, Thanksgiving can be a fraught time, a regression to suppressing our identities around relatives who may not accept us, at least not in a way that allows us to be our true selves. We at the Leonard Litz LGBTQ+ Foundation are forever thankful for our chosen families. We may not share a genetic connection, but we embrace one another fully. We create a space where we all belong. We are connected by a bond stronger than blood, a birthright that is both a trial and a privilege. This bond was brilliantly displayed throughout the many celebrations of Pride this summer, particularly right here in Connecticut and New York, where the Leonard Litz LGBTQ+ Foundation partnered with Circle Care Center to support Pride celebrations in over two dozen suburban communities. The result was a kaleidoscope of happy smiles, warm hugs, fabulous drag performances and story hours, movie nights, art shows, and a plethora of parades. We truly had a gay old time. Unfortunately, this year’s Pride was not immune to prejudice. Pride organizers throughout New York and Connecticut remained on constant guard over potential threats to the safety of…

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Welcome to the Best Pride Ever! 292 296

Welcome to the Best Pride Ever!

In some ways, there has never been more LGBTQ+ Pride in greater Westchester County and Connecticut. From flag raising ceremonies, to family-friendly comedy shows, to street festivals and parades, there’s a little something for everyone. Pride is a celebration of joy and acceptance, a radical expression of love for ourselves and for each other. Nothing, and no one, can take that away from us. But some folks are really trying to, aren’t they? The LGBTQ+ community is under vicious attack throughout the country. It’s tempting to try to fight fire with fire, give the haters a taste of their own venom. But actually one of our greatest weapons in this movement is Pride. Pride is not just about marching in parades. Here in the greater Westchester County and Connecticut, it can mean attending a Pride Flag Raising Ceremony in Norwalk, or Easton, Greenwich, or Waterbury. There are parades and street festivals planned in places like Rye, Yorktown, Putnam, Yonkers, New Rochelle, and Mount Vernon. Movies nights in Middletown, and Drag-Queen Story Hour in Darien. A Pride Color Run in Pound Ridge, and a Drag Gospel Fest in Waterbury. This February, local Pride organizers from across Connecticut and New York convened…

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Grantee Spotlights: The Gay & Lesbian Review 243 265

Grantee Spotlights: The Gay & Lesbian Review

In an age of nonstop information and misinformation, we know that the messaging can be just as important as the message when it comes to telling our stories as LGBTQ+ people. That’s why the Leonard Litz LGBTQ+ Foundation has been honored to support a very important initiative aimed at developing and supporting storyteller voices in our community. The first annual Writers and Artists Grant from The Gay & Lesbian Review is intended to help bring new, diverse perspectives, ideas, and voices to the literary marketplace by encouraging and supporting emerging and unpublished LGBTQ+ writers, thinkers, scholars, and artists. After a rigorous application and evaluation process, three amazing graduate students have been selected for this first cohort. Cait N. Parker (she/her) is a Ph.D. Student in American Studies with a concentration in Women’s, Gender, & Sexuality Studies at Purdue University, whose project is titled “Don’t Let Them Bury Us: Lesbian Revolutionaries in the Prison Abolition Movement.” Gervais Marsh (they/them), pictured above, is a PhD Student in Performance Studies at Northwestern University, and their project is titled “Intimate Notes: Patric McCoy’s Archive of Black Gay Life in Chicago.” They will focus on artist Patric McCoy’s photographic archive as a meditation on the…

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