News & Stories

Happy Birthday, Elliot! 341 271

Happy Birthday, Elliot!

Most people tend to receive gifts on their birthday. Not our co-founder, Elliot Leonard. By founding the Leonard Litz LGBTQ+ Foundation, Elliot and his husband, Roger, have offered a tremendous example of generosity and kindness—not just a lifeline to so many nonprofit organizations doing life-saving work in the mission to protect and expand the safety, equality, and well-being of LGBTQ+ people, but also an urgent call to action to our entire community to support one another however we can. As Elliot loves to say, “you don’t need a lot of zeroes in your bank account to make a meaningful difference.” So, here’s to you, Elliot! Thank you for your wonderful gift of kindness and inspiration. Wishing you a Happy and Memorable Birthday, from the entire Leonard Litz family!

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Empowering the Next Generation of LGBTQ+ Athletes 302 371

Empowering the Next Generation of LGBTQ+ Athletes

If you’re a millennial like me, or older, you didn’t have many public LGBTQ+ role models when you were growing up—especially when it came to sports. I remember the anxiety I felt as a closeted gay man joining MMA in high school, and the difference it made when I stumbled across the profile of Orlando Cruz, a gay Puerto Rican Olympic boxer. It was an empowering moment for me. Today, LGBTQ+ youth are witnessing a transformational epoch in the history of sexual and gender minority representation in sports across the globe. In 2020, weightlifter Laurel Hubbard became the first trans woman to compete in the Summer Olympics. Out LGBTQ+ athletes at the Winter Olympics brought their inspirational sportsmanship to the world stage. With 36 out athletes having competed in these past Winter Olympics, and another 186 in last year’s Summer Games, we’re reminded that our community is successful and talented beyond the stereotypical fields of art and music—perhaps even more so, because of the resilience we’ve had to show to overcome some of the ingrained homophobia among sports fans. The growing number of out athletes pushes the normalization of LGBTQ+ sportsmanship. Numerous research studies provide insight into the anxiety LGBTQ+…

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Black History is LGBTQ+ History 400 476

Black History is LGBTQ+ History

As we come to the end of Black History Month, some folks are probably tired hearing the refrain that “Black History is American History.” Of course, it is. This country was built on the backs of Black people. America wouldn’t be America without Black history. But it’s also true that the LGBTQ+ community wouldn’t be where we are today without Black history. In fact, Black history is LGBTQ+ history. Our intersecting identities and struggles are impossible to dissect—quite literally for many people. The LGBTQ+ community is not inherently white, and Black people are not inherently straight. Though the LGBTQ+ Equality Movement has often been whitewashed in ways that marginalize the experiences of Black queer people, those experiences are no less valid. In fact, Black people have repeatedly been central and integral to the advancement of LGBTQ+ rights. Marsha P. Johnson, one of the storied leaders of the 1969 Stonewall uprising, was a Black drag queen. And it goes both ways. LGBTQ+ people have always been in the trenches of the Black Civil Rights Movement, if not always in the headlines. From Bayard Rustin and Audre Lorde, to James Baldwin and Lori Lightfoot, Black history and LGBTQ+ history have repeatedly been…

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The 2022 Leonard-Litz Community Grant 800 304

The 2022 Leonard-Litz Community Grant

The Leonard-Litz LGBTQ+ Foundation is delighted to announce that our 2022 Community Grant is now open for applications. In 2021, we were proud to award more than $750,000 in grants to over 40 nonprofit LGBTQ+ organizations. In 2022, the goal is $1 million. Our Community Grants are intended to support the important work being done by nonprofit LGBTQ+ organizations of all sizes. LGBTQ+ Community Centers have been described as “the heart and soul of LGBTQ+ communities,” and we have all been witness to the tremendous good they do in communities all over the country, often with very little resources. We welcome grant applications from nonprofit organizations seeking help to deliver the programs and services our communities so urgently need. Our revised Community Grant application form is open for submissions on a rolling basis. Our grant review team generally reviews applications with four to six weeks, and, if approved, funds will be disbursed two to four weeks later. We would be remiss if we did not acknowledge the meticulous work that went into developing the original application—and our beautiful website. We offer sincere thanks and appreciation to Daryl Duarte, Chetan Jain, Mary Schiffer, and Laura Nelson for their input and contributions,…

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A Message from Our Founders 661 418

A Message from Our Founders

As we finish our first year, we say Thank You to all who have participated in this funding venture. LGBTQ+ Community Centers of all sizes are an important presence in many of the cities, towns, and rural areas throughout the country. They have been described as “the heart and soul of the LGBTQ+ communities, a place where people can find resources, services, support, and a safe, welcoming space to just ‘be'” (thanks CenterLink!). They often provide the first opportunity for many youth to participate in a diverse range of activities with peers like them. These experiences allow young people to grow in self-awareness and confidence as they enter the rapidly changing world they will have to navigate in the future. These Centers also provide services to adults and seniors, who are often isolated or looking for some sense of community—especially now. Our Foundation has awarded grants to more than 40 organizations during our initial year. We invite you to visit our website to read more about these efforts, and to learn how you can explore opportunities to seek our help. The “Joy of Giving” takes on new meaning when you realize the tremendous impact that seemingly small gestures can have…

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Some More Equal Than Others? 512 342

Some More Equal Than Others?

Is it me, or do most LGBTQ+ people seem to be super over-achievers? Across multiple professional contexts—from the corporate world to activism, even in government—the LGBTQ+ community seems to be disproportionately represented at the top. I, myself, was an A-student who went on to earn two graduate degrees, as did many of my friends. And now comes quantifiable data showing that LGBTQ+ people earn degrees at higher rates than our straight counterparts. Is it just self-selection? Is there something in the water, or are we genetically predisposed to be “smarter”? As much as it might be tempting to believe the latter, the same study that produced this data posits that this level of over-achieving is really an act of resilience in the face of victimization. Having been marginalized and discriminated against for so long, many of us over-compensate with other forms of success. When your identity is all but erased for much of your life, you need to find other ways to be seen. Which, of course, is patently unfair. We shouldn’t have to strive to be better-than just to earn a place at the table. Also, many in our queer communities don’t fit this over-achiever stereotype. In fact, the…

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Q3 Grants Update 1707 2560

Q3 Grants Update

As we close out a busy year at the Leonard Litz Foundation, we are already looking forward with anticipation to doing even more in 2022 to support and fund organizations working to advance the interests and well-being of the LGBTQ+ community We continue to be humbled and inspired by the life-saving work being done by so many organizations throughout the Northeast, often by individuals for too little remuneration. We are grateful for their passion and advocacy, and thrilled to be able to be a partner in their work. We happily announce the following Q3 grant recipients: ACLU Connecticut City Lights & Company Community Shelter Services Copper Beech Institute CUNY Research Foundation Dutchess County Pride Center EDGE New Jersey Finger Lakes Family Counseling Services Hudson Pride Center Lambda Legal New York LGBTQ Network OUT Maine The Pride Network Sam and Devorah Foundation for Trans Youth Soule Foundation The South Coast LGBTQ Network, Inc. Team New York Aquatics Westchester Jewish Community Services   As we look ahead to next year, we are excited for the opportunity to engage with even more organizations who share our mission of protecting and expanding the safety, equality, and well-being of LGBTQ+ people—and stay tuned for a…

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A Testimonial from Nadine Strossen 640 596

A Testimonial from Nadine Strossen

The Leonard Litz LGBTQ+ Foundation epitomizes the most constructive path forward to advance the embattled values of equality, dignity, diversity, inclusivity, and peace. The ominous levels of hate speech, discrimination, and violence here in the U.S. and around the world have fueled an understandable impulse to censor hateful ideas and to “cancel” hateful speakers. But there is an even more powerful antidote to hate: Love. As Dr. Martin Luther King said: “Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”  Accordingly, he declared, “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.” An inspiration to all of us in exercising our all-important right not to remain silent, is the example set by Elliot Leonard and Roger Litz in creating the Leonard Litz LGBTQ+ Foundation. The Supreme Court has long recognized that  providing financial support  to a chosen cause or organization constitutes constitutionally protected expression.  If so, what better statement to make than the one that infuses this Foundation’s signature mission:  promoting the heroic work of nonprofit organizations that enhance the rights and lives of people who have endured marginalization. Ample evidence demonstrates that even a small expression of love and…

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PRIDE Doesn’t End in June 470 534

PRIDE Doesn’t End in June

This year the Leonard-Litz LGBTQ+ Foundation was honored to support several community partners as they celebrated Pride Month. But we know that Pride doesn’t end with June. The ongoing fight for equality and justice, particularly for Black and Brown, Trans, and Gender-nonconforming people happens in ways big and small every day. While most corporate diversity and inclusion efforts may dissipate after June, we believe that uniting and empowering the LGBTQ+ community is essential twenty-four hours a day, 365 days a year. So we are thrilled to share these pictures and memories from various Pride 2021 celebrations we supported across the Northeast US.   Westchester Pride, hosted The LOFT LGBTQ+ Community Center, showcased drag queens and hosted film screenings, in tandem with presentations and discussions around LGBTQ+ legislation, intersectionality, mental health, and peer-support sessions. The political discourse around LGBTQ+ rights has impacted many members of our community negatively, especially our youth, who grapple with fear, anxiety, and depression, which is why it is crucial to infuse Pride with comprehensive learning experiences for everyone.       Fairfield Pride, hosted by Triangle Community Center, featured a lineup of primarily outdoor events that were curated for all ages, such as Pride Parade of…

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LLF Celebrates a Safe But Festive Gala Season 819 546

LLF Celebrates a Safe But Festive Gala Season

‘Tis the season of Annual Awards and Chicken Dinners! Unfortunately, we are also still battling hopefully the final stages of a global pandemic. While the Leonard-Litz team was looking forward to cutting a rug with some of our local community partners, we also understand and appreciate the need to celebrate in a way that prioritizes everyone’s safety. After more than 18 months of societal upheaval that we all hoped would be over by now, many of us are still longing for some sense of hope. But we also know that it is precisely when things feel hopeless that we must rally together as a community, especially for the sake of our most vulnerable members. We are grateful to the many nonprofit organizations and their staffs for being there when our community needs them most, and even though we had to settle for another scaled back or virtual gala season, we are honored to stand by their side in the ongoing fight for equality and justice for all LGBTQ+ people. No one is free until everyone is free.   Until then, at least we have pictures and memories!   Lambda Legal: Connecticut Cares 2021   Triangle Community Center: 2021 Visionary Gala,…

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