Connecticut Voice

Your LGBTQ+ Voice

Pride 2024: Leonard Litz Foundation

Pride 2024 lands in the middle of much unrest, tragedy, and uncertainty swirling in the world around us. Yet it is exactly times like these when it is important to take a moment to be grateful for the work of our local LGBTQ+ community centers. Often unassuming, financially lean (read: broke!) and staffed by underpaid heroes, these centers play a vital role in cities, towns, and rural areas throughout the country. They have been described as “the heart and soul of LGBTQ+ communities.” Here in Connecticut, they often provide the first opportunity for many young people to participate in a diverse range of activities with peers like them. These experiences allow folks 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, a fast-growing demographic who are often isolated and looking for some sense of community.

Even as we enjoy an assortment of celebrations in June, many of us are familiar with the phrase, “Pride is Every Day.” This is a philosophy that LGBTQ+ community centers embody. At a time when our community finds itself under deplorable attack throughout the country, these centers offer the comforting assurance that Pride extends well beyond parades (though the parades are fun, too!). They remind us that Pride is community. Pride is collaboration.


Pride is Connecticut.

Part of the reason we started the Leonard Litz LGBTQ+ Foundation is to help support queer people (and our allies) right here in Connecticut. It can feel satisfying to donate to larger, well known national LGBTQ+ organizations—who do important work, to be sure—but you would be amazed at both the tremendous need there is right here in own backyard, and at the tremendous impact that relatively small gestures can have on so many of our friends and neighbors.

It can be daunting to see what’s happening in parts of the country and the world and to wonder what any of us can do to help. Fortunately, we can do so much to influence the communities where we live.

For many LGBTQ+ people, our community centers become an important part of our chosen families. They create a space where we all belong.

In New Haven, our Foundation was proud to provide a matching grant to help facilitate the move to a brand-new physical space on Orange Street, where we can all enjoy the New Haven Pride Center’s commitment to accessibility and inclusivity. With a designated area for youth, a black box media room, and a rapidly expanding food pantry and clothing closet, the new Pride Center represents a symbolic resilience in the face of growing anti-LGBTQ hate. No longer are they hidden away in the basement. They are out and proud for the world to see.


Sometimes, visibility can make all the difference.

The Triangle Community Center in Norwalk has been around for more than thirty years, with the mission of empowering and advocating for LGBTQ+ people throughout Fairfield County and beyond. However, many of the people in Fairfield County who needed their services the most often aren’t able to travel to Norwalk very easily. TCC was so close, yet so far away. Now, through a grant from our foundation, TCC has an opportunity to leverage partnerships with other nonprofits to expand their footprint in places like Stamford and Danbury. The vision of helping to create a thriving, inclusive world where all LGBTQ+ people are equal, safe, and celebrated requires going out into every community and meeting LGBTQ+ people where they are.


Like Bridgeport, for instance.

Last 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, including high rates of poverty and under-resourced public services.

Yet none of this was on display during Pride. It was a celebration not just of the vibrant LGBTQ+ community there, but of Bridgeport itself. Yes, there are urgent and critical needs in the city, but those are not 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.

Last July, the Leonard Litz LGBTQ+ Foundation announced a commitment to partner with members of the Greater Bridgeport Pride Committee to establish the Bridgeport Pride Center, a permanent community center focused on creating safe and empowering resources and opportunities for LGBTQ+ people in Bridgeport and environs. It was an ambitious goal, but today, just under a year later, we are thrilled to share that the Bridgeport Pride Center has been incorporated, with a beautiful space to call home on Elm Street, a dedicated and active board of directors, and a growing staff led by a dynamic executive director.

Our Foundation has awarded grants to more than 100 organizations during our first four years. Some of the work we are most proud of is happening right here in Connecticut. All told, we’ve committed more than a quarter million dollars in service to our community.. We invite you to visit our website to read more about these efforts, and to learn how you can take some time to research the LGBTQ+ Community Centers in your own communities. You’ll be amazed and excited by the amount of good they can do with whatever support you can offer them.

Elliot Leonard and Roger Litz are Founding Trustees of the Leonard Litz LGBTQ+ Foundation.