History of Gay and Lesbian Life in Wisconsin - People - Bios

Leonard J. Sobczak


Primary Involvements:

Community Philanthropist
LGBT periodical Publisher
Real Estate





In the 1980s, Leonard Sobczak was extremely active in the Cream City Business Association and other organizations, and was a friendly and familiar face at countless events and parties. He served on the board of the CCBA.

Otherwise active in the LGBT community, in 1993, Sobczak competed in the International Gay and Lesbian Aquatics (IGLA) Swimming and Polo championships in Chicago, taking three first-place medals, one second-place and one third-place medal. In 1994, Sobczak swam in five events of the 'Gay Games' in New York, in which some 100 Wisconsinites competed.

Sobczak was born and raised on the east side of Milwaukee, majoring in business at UW-Madison. He has long been involved in real estate, first renovating older houses and other buildings. By the early 2000's, Sobczak was president/ principal of Eastmore Real Estate.

Sobczak was appointed by Mayor John Norquist in August 2000 to the city of Milwaukee's Fire and Police Commission, and in October 2003 headed a Commission that found that the MPD fostered a culture of anti-LGBT attitudes that were tolerated by command staff. It recommended more professional and long-term training for all levels at the police department, as advised by LGBT community leaders, and leading to the hiring of gay community leader Gary Hollander as a training consultant. In May 2005 the MPD launched its expanded "cultural competency" training program created after testimony by lesbian and gay police officers aand firefighters (Q-Life News v1-06, May 2005).

After the failure of various local LGBT periodicals, most recently the loss of the Queer Life newspaper (2005-2008), in 2009 Sobczak rallied a group of parties interested in establishing a new LGBT publication, and became CEO and Principal of a new LGBTQ periodical, the Wisconsin Gazette, hiring Louis Weisberg as Publisher and Editor in Chief. That newspaper-type publication was widely distributed free in grocery stores, bars and numerous other outlets, publishing for some 9 years (November 2009 to 2018).

In 2012 Sobczak was appointed as a co-chair of the steering commitee for the Wisconsin LGBT Chamber of Commerce.

He also served on Mayor Tom Barrett's Finance Committee in 2015-2016, and became the first Wisconsinite to join the group 'Patriotic Millionaires' in 2017 (WIG v8-17, June 2017).

Receives CCBA's 'Plaudits" award
(In Step vol 3-03, Feb. 1986)
CCBA Investment Club welcomes members
(In Step vol 3-24, Dec. 1986)
Receives 6 medals in IGLA swimming championships
(In Step vol 10-12, June 1993)
Leonard interviewed in 2-page article
(In Step vol 18-24, Nov. 2001)
Milw Fire & Police Commission
hears testimony on LGBT concerns;
commission run by Sobczak
(In Step vol 20-09, May 2003)
Receives Change Maker award
from Wis. Community Fund
(Queer Life vol 1-04, March 2005)
MPD launches 'cultural competency' training
as result of May 2003 hearings
(see that article above)
(Queer Life vol 1-06, May 2005)
Listed as 2005 donor/ supporter of
Cream City Foundation
(Queer Life vol 2-03, Feb. 2006)
First issue of new periodical
(Wis Gazette vol 1-01, Nov. 2009)
Ad: Eastmore Real Estate (headed by Sobczak)
(Wis Gazette vol 1-06, Jan. 2010)
Article: honored with award by
Pridefest for community leadership
(Wis Gazette vol 1-15, June 2010)
(see also Fair Wisconsin
award recipient, image to right)
Article: How Dahmer changed public relations
(Sobczak interviewed)
(Wis Gazette vol 2-18, July 2011)
Article: appointed to steering committee
for Wis LGBT Chamber of Commerce
(Wis Gazette vol 3-25, October 2012)
Article: how Wis Gazette publication came to be
(Wis Gazette vol 6-01, Nov. 2014)
Article: Named recipient of Bayard Rustin Leadership Award
by Diverse & Resilient
(Wis Gazette vol 6-05, Jan. 2015)
Article: Diverse & Resilient award presentation
(Wis Gazette vol 6-08, March 2015)
Opinion: Environmental concern
(Wis Gazette vol 7-01, Nov. 2015)
Article: Saving Wisconsin's Grasslands (cover photo from Sobczak's land)
(Wis Gazette vol 7-08, March 2016)
Article: Wis. Gazette closing down (farewell article by Sobczak: is print dead?)
(Wis Gazette vol 7-08, March 2016)

(on left) at Democratic Natl. Convention
(Wis Light vol 1-12, July 1988)

Photo, 2001

Sobczak (on left) with Marvin Pratt
(In Step vol 20-12, June 2003)

Photo, 2005

Receiving leadership award
from Fair Wisconsin
(Wis Gazette vol 1-16, June 2010)

Credits: web site concept, design and this writeup by Don Schwamb.
Last updated: April-2024.

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