It’s an honor to be a part of changing the world. I’ve been a donor, volunteer and champion for this organization for many years and have rarely missed one of their glorious annual celebrations. This years dinner and party for the National Center for Lesbian Rights was different than ever before. There was more joy, more excitement, (over the recent gay marriage victories among others) than ever before.
My friend Wen Minkoff, Marketing Director for Olivia Travel, summed it up well: “The NCLR Gala in San Francisco was inspiring, as always. Fighting for equality for all, celebrating our victories, and of course, skeetball. Seriously, though, Kate Kendell and her team (Dani Siragusa for one) do such a great job of making it easy to get involved, and I was glad to hear Kate say “we are coming for you” in the context of renewing the commitment to under served communities (rural lesbians, people of color, transgender folks, immigrants etc.) Building strong coalitions and giving everyone a seat at the table is so important.“
And the after party, as usual, was AWESOME! Dj Rockaway spinning, wild dancing, old and new friends, and best of all: simply amazing people watching. Lesbians, lesbians and more lesbians. I mentioned to a friend that I thought many people in the crowd were younger than ever before… but she said that was because we are getting old! But still, it was wonderful to see so many younger women come out! Rachel Wahba of Olivia Travel brought along her high school age grandaughter Becca, who had a blast.
This is the party of the year, a lesbian prom of sorts. So even if you don’t do anything else with NCLR all year (they have many amazing events) this would be the one not to miss.
They are one of the best civil rights organizations to donate to, because they help people who really need it and they are getting the job done.
Voice and Visibility Award: Meredith Baxter
Actor Meredith Baxter received the Visibility Award, which honors an individual who has helped to give voice and visibility to the LGBT community. Baxter gained fame on hit television shows like “Family Ties,” “The Faculty,” and “Cold Case,” and is a relentless and tireless advocate for LGBT equality.
Courage Award: Survivors of So-Called “Conversion Therapy”
Ryan Kendall and Sam Brinton received the Courage Award, which honors individuals who have shown courage and perseverance in the face of great injustice, and whose bravery has become a model for all LGBT people. Kendall and Brinton are survivors of anti-LGBT conversion therapy and share their personal stories to highlight the terrible harms caused by these practices. They have testified to help California and New Jersey pass laws stopping mental health professionals from trying to change young people’s sexual orientation or gender expression. Many states have since introduced similar legislation, and both Kendall and Brinton continue to advocate for these groundbreaking protections other young people.
Special Guest: Jessica Urbina
Jessica’s senior portrait was omitted from her high school’s yearbook and graduation ceremony because she wore a tuxedo. Officials at San Francisco’s Sacred Heart Cathedral Preparatory School said Jessica Urbina, 18, had violated their policy that girls must wear dresses in their yearbook photos.