As New York stepped into 2016 filled with new hope and excitement and resolutions, Ellie Conant breathed her last breath. She was young and beautiful and taken from this world too soon! [After a very brave fight against lymphoma]... she passed gracefully into the next plane of existence with her fiancée Melissa Saks and her dog by her side.
Ellie was a long-time party promoter in the New York City lesbian scene, but the title does no justice to the many lives she touched along the way and the ripple effect she left behind. Since her passing, an outpouring of the lesbian and queer community has flocked to her Facebook page, sharing stories of how she impacted their lives and moments that etch her impermanence in the history of queer culture.
– Allison Hope, "Rest in Power Ellie Conant"
Ellie felt strongly about her racial identity. Once writing in reference to her chosen family, “I remember noticing the Korean flag hanging in the children’s room. It was so beautiful with the bold yin-yang symbol representing balance and the foreign yet familiar text surrounding it. The flag, sewn together to create something so beautiful and balanced, could easily represent us, foreign yet familiar too. I recognize Korean writing but cannot read it, hear Korean words but do not understand it. When I meet first-generation Koreans, I feel a kinship through our physical traits and certain gestures ...but a disconnect in our upbringing.”
She understood my children in places that I will never comprehend, but will always respect.
She made me laugh my ass off even in the darkest times. She stepped up for me, and permitted me to do the same for her.
She changed people's lives who met her one time, for ten minutes and never ever forgot her.
– Martha Crawford
, "In Memorium
After she fell ill, Ellie thought intensely about her legacy and the opportunity for social change that could be borne from her untimely death. She had already given so much: vibrant youth leadership at the Korean American Adoptee Network
, late-night safe havens for queers, electrifying LGBT dance parties, and innumerable events that refuted the notion that lesbian nightlife was a thing of the past. And despite no longer being with us, she continues her long-standing tradition.
Astraea is honored to be the home of the Ellie Conant Fund, which will support LGBTQ individuals in Korea. "Through the help of Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice, we were able to identify programs, including the first LGBTQ youth shelter in Korea, that were in need of support," notes Ellie's fiancée, Melissa. "When we learned that this fund would be possible, Ellie said, 'That is it!' It's exactly the cross section of her identity that she wanted to support." In less than a month, the Ellie Conant Fund has raised over $6,000 from 90 donors!
This is testament to her unifying force and love. To further Ellie's vision to support Korean LGBT communities, and keep her legacy alive, donate here by selecting "In Memory of" and entering Ellie's name into the text field below. Astraea will be accepting donations in her honor through June 30, 2016.
Ellie was many things to many people, but when we distill it all down to her spirit... the result is LOVE. She was all about Love. Spreading it about. Introducing you to kimchi and love.
– Elizabeth Tenenbaum