From Love Story to Lasting Legacy, Charles Gruenberger and Jack Kersey’s Support of the LGBTQ+ Community Lives on Through the Community Foundation of Louisville’s Newest Funding Initiative

The Community Foundation of Louisville, in partnership with a community-led advisory committee, has launched the Charles & Jack Fund for LGBTQ+ Advancement – a new funding opportunity focused on supporting nonprofit organizations that are committed to fostering a supportive, inclusive, and affirming environments for queer youth in Louisville.

Through a permanent endowment fund created by the late Charles Gruenberger and Jack Kersey – two longtime trailblazers in advocating for queer rights and HIV/AIDS education in Louisville – the Charles & Jack Fund for LBGTQ+ Advancement seeks to meet the unique needs of LGBTQ+ youth and advance the work of organizations who are on the ground supporting this population.

Queer youth have faced a barrage of attacks, both nationally and at home. These relentless assaults have undermined their rights and their safety, and the advocates, caregivers, and protectors who tirelessly support Louisville’s youth must receive the support they need to further their organizations’ missions.

Local 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations serving LGBTQ+ youth (aged 24 and under) are invited to apply online for grant funding of up to $20,000 from now until July 10, 2024, at midnight (ET). The Foundation will also host a virtual information session for nonprofits on June 13 at 3:30 p.m. (ET) to learn more about the grant application for the Charles & Jack Fund for LGBTQ+ Advancement.

About Charles and Jack

Charles Gruenberger and Jack Kersey met sometime around 1950 in Washington D.C, where Charles was teaching dentistry at Georgetown University, and Jack was a dancer with the Washington Ballet. They would move to Louisville in 51’ and return to D.C. a year later when Charles was drafted into the Korean War, serving at the Pentagon. In 1953, President Eisenhower signed Executive Order 10450, making homosexuality a disqualification for federal employment. In the wake of the order, they left the Capitol for Louisville again, this time for good. Upon settling in Old Louisville, Gruenberger and Kersey described the city’s gay scene as “conservative” and “very, very discreet.” Fortunately, they committed themselves to bringing safety, visibility, and resources to Louisville’s queer citizens when few existed.

picture of Charles and Jack smiling

Pictured: Charles Gruenberger and Jack Kersey, circa 1995. Photo courtesy of House of Ruth.

In 1970, the Louisville Gay Liberation Front, which held university classes at UofL on gay life, was started in a building Kersey owned. Kersey famously became the first Louisville man to come out as gay on television when he was featured in a WLKY segment in 1978. In the 80s, after an unsuccessful attempt to add a gay crisis hotline through Louisville’s social service agencies, Jack and Charles helped form the CommTen Center. Beyond providing the crisis line the city refused to offer, the CommTen Center provided diverse educational and cultural programs for LGBTQ people and hosted the earliest local meetings with elected and campaign officials.

When the AIDS crisis reached Louisville, Jack and Charles took in a young person dying of AIDS whose parents wanted nothing to do with them. Then they took in another. Finally, in 1986, they purchased Glade House at 1022 S. 6th St. as a residential community and hospice for HIV/AIDS sufferers. Glade House was so successful that a neighboring building was purchased, and professional staff were brought on board. In 2001, Glade House was acquired by House of Ruth and still provides shelter for homeless individuals with HIV/AIDS to this day.

In 1994, Charles established a Trust with the Community Foundation of Louisville with the condition that, upon his and Jack’s deaths, a Field of Interest Fund be opened to continue the incredible work they dedicated their lives to in support of marginalized communities.

Since their passing, Charles and Jack’s legacy of resiliency lives on in the Charles & Jack Fund for LBGTQ+ Advancement.

Interested in this grant? Register to attend the virtual info session on June 13 or apply online today.