In 1996, Harry Lit organized a modest weekend gathering for the gay “bear” community in the beautiful and scenic Guerneville, California on the Russian River just north of San Francisco.
Aware of the marginalization and lack of spaces for gay men who did not fit the mainstream gay scene, Lit used the event to establish the Lazy Bear Fund (LBF) as a way to celebrate community, love, and diversity. Since its inception, LBF has donated over 2 million dollars to non-profit and charity organizations in the Bay Area.
The 21st annual Lazy Bear Weekend took place the first week of August 2017, with over 2000 men from all around the world in attendance—a record in the history of Lazy Bear.
The Global Forum on MSM & HIV was honored to be selected as a beneficiary this year. Participants had the opportunity to learn about the important work of MSMGF between socializing at pool parties, games, performances, and other activities.
Building a community of love, respect, and diversity among gay men is core to the mission of MSMGF, and the $4000 of donated funds will be utilized toward developing a new campaign and research initiative among young gay men around the world through MSMGF’s Youth Reference Group.
“For Lazy Bear Weekend 21 in August, we were able to start making donations to charitable organizations within two months. We proudly donate to groups that promote community and address hunger, refugee crises and natural disaster relief” said David Barker, the board president of LBF.
The LBF organization is currently led by long-time attendees, supporters and previous staff members of Lazy Bear: Fred Bothe, Trey Sheldon, Steve Adams, John Jacob, and David Barker. The new Board is steering a new strategic vision for LBF while safeguarding the legacy of Harry and his partner Allen, who remain committed and supportive.
“We plan to expand our grass roots fundraising events to help people down the street, across town and around the world. We work toward a better future but we put the money to work right away” added David.
MSMGF is an expanding network of advocates and other experts in sexual health, LGBT/human rights, research, and policy, working to ensure an effective response to HIV among gay men and other men who have sex with men. We are directly linked with more than 120 community-based organizations, across 62 countries.