Equality Connecticut launched early in 2023 and got right to work at the Capitol
Connecticut has a myriad of local Pride organizations, from big cities to small towns, as well as advocacy nonprofits such as the Triangle Community Center, OutCT and Q Plus. Now there’s a new group in the Constitution State, dedicated to securing the LGBTQ+ community’s constitutionally protected rights through political activism: Equality Connecticut (EQCT).
“Our mission is to bring people together to celebrate our LGBTQ identities and advocate for the laws and policies, and the resources that we need to protect our community,” said Matt Blinstrubas, executive director of EQCT, at its January launch at the State Capitol.
“We come to this work with a fierce commitment to LGBTQ justice and liberation. We recognize that queer people in Connecticut face multiple various forms of oppression, and therefore we fight against them. We see the fights against systemic racism, gender discrimination, criminalization, violence, poverty, health disparities, as well as reproductive justice, as all inherently queer issues that we want to show up for. We also know that legal rights are not enough. Our visibility, our culture, our history, our sense of belonging, and our shared joy are equally essential to LGBTQ people’s well-being,” he said.
The group takes inspiration from the Equality Federation, a national organization comprised of 43 state Pride groups, and similarly named non-profits in states across the nation.
Blinstrubas said EQCT’s first mission is to create a larger presence at the State Capitol, making connections with lawmakers toward passing legislation that’s important to the LGBTQ+ community. He told CT Voice at a fundraiser in Norwalk this past June that in its first six months, the organization already has taken its first steps toward accomplishing that mission.
“We have actually influenced and made a meaningful difference on some legislation this session. One thing in particular was that, with Representatives Jeff Currey and Cristin McCarthy Vahey, adding very modernized language around suicide prevention education to be more LGBT inclusive; Education for educators, and things like that,” said Blinstrubas.
“We were able to get language in there when they defined ‘youth at-risk for suicide,’” said Beverley Brakeman, who does pro-bono legislative advocacy for EQCT. “There were four categories, and we were able to get a fifth category that said ‘lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning.’ And so that is in the statute now, as the definition of youth at-risk for suicide.”
Blinstrubas said their work has just begun.
“I think that we have come light years in terms of being a presence at the Capitol, from that time in January to now. It has completely changed for the better.”
Joining Blinstrubas on staff is award-winning writer, community educator, public speaker, and social media strategist Leah Juliett of Waterbury, who organized a concert fundraiser this past summer that raised thousands of dollars for EQCT. “I couldn’t be more proud to be a part of this incredible group of activists and organizers,” they said. Juliett was invited to the White House in June to provide testimony at its Gender Policy Council and the Task Force to Address Online Harassment and Abuse.
EQCT also has an advisory board with more than a dozen volunteers dedicating their time, including OutCT president Kia Baird, TCC Board President Colin Hosten and Tony Ferraiolo, director of Health Care Advocates International’s Youth and Family Program, among others.
Find out more about Equality Connecticut at eqct.org.