Ellie Conant was many things to many people: a dutiful daughter, a consecrated caretaker of children she loved like her own, a loving fiancee, a puppy mom, a friend, and a role model who left an indelible imprint on queer nightlife and the larger community in New York City. Tragically, lymphoma took the light out of her eyes far too soon. Thankfully, the flame she ignited burns bright in the lives she touched.
To GO Magazine, Ellie was a sparkplug and a steadfast presence. She offered advice and encouragement to our editorial staff. She created many of the destinations that “the cultural roadmap for the city girl” led to, the physical destinations ladies thumbed through our pages to find. Most importantly, Ellie created the safe spaces where the queer community could gather freely—and her parties were always the hottest.
Ellie was in lockstep with GO from day one. She lent her energy as a leading voice within the extended GO community and was the architect of many of the events that sprinkle our fondest memories.
“Ellie had a profound effect on GO’s course, and a profound effect on me personally,”said Publisher and Editor-in-Chief Amy Lesser, who first met Ellie in the early 2000s when Ellie worked across the street from the GO office at Cafe Angelique. “We had an immediate rapport and exchanged anecdotes about lesbian nightlife and queer culture. But what ultimately led me to fall for Ellie wasn’t her wit; it was her authenticity and her loving nature. It was her genuine kindness.”
Ellie was someone Amy felt comfortable confiding in when the then-fledgling magazine was going through tough times. “On two occasions, when I’d had just about enough, it was Ellie who counseled me to persevere, to keep GO going,”she says. “Ellie is irreplaceable. Her contributions to this community are unique and lasting."
Ellie was deliberate in her commitment to create not only memorable events, but spaces for young people to be themselves. That ethos was evident in her charitable work, which extended beyond party promoting. She donated her time to empower youth at the Korean American Adoptee Network (KAAN) and was passionate about helping the next generation come up.
To that end, a fund has been set up in her name through KAAN to continue her work supporting Korean-born adoptees. Her memory is also honored with a fund through the Astraea Foundation to support a group of people close to her heart: LGBTQ Korean youth.
"Ellie would be touched to see the incredible outpouring of love," says her fiancée Melissa Saks. "Ellie was so loving and compassionate and that will live on in the lives of the children she cared for, her family, her friends, and those who were able to feel safe and free to be themselves at her events."
The brilliance of Ellie's spirit is best showcased by the innumerable relationships she maintained. Some were as close as family and others she had only chance encounters with, but all hold a piece of her vibrancy and the special world she helped to create.
We are proud to dedicate this issue of GO Magazine to Ellie Conant.
Shana Fried, friend and partner-in-crime, on Ellie and her impact:
Ellie Conant changed my life. She held a mirror to my bullshit and was the bullhorn to my enthusiasm. Where I lacked confidence, she uplifted me. Where I was abrasive, she toned me down. Through the decade of debauchery and overwhelming love that we shared, she became my best friend. She taught me how to communicate, how to understand and how to truly stop and recognize the human being at the other end of a conversation. She taught me respect for others, and grammar—she was big on grammar.
Nightlife was an outlet for us; for Ellie it offered a spotlight where she was the headliner, but a headliner who consistently offered the stage for coveted guest artists. She sought intentionally and purposefully to bring to light those among us who deserved recognition, who told the story of us. She knew her purpose in this queer nightlife was to move us forward, to use her incredible powers of interaction to make the stories of her contemporaries understood, to eliminate the stigmas we had dealt with as queer youth.
Ellie was everything I knew I could not be: outspoken, confident, the center of attention and conversation. She was everything I admired, everything I knew was beautiful in humanity. Without her, this world feels a bit less purposeful, but in her legacy, I feel the purpose in carrying on her beautiful intentions. Please take the time to stop and say hello to your neighbor, to take a second and genuinely care about what they have to say. We are not alone in this world, and hopefully we can all carry a bit of Ellie with us.