Be GLAAD for what you have
GLAAD celebrates its 25th year and hosts an inaugural awards ceremony in Atlanta.
The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation’s (GLAAD) Atlanta Leadership Council created a lavish and fabulous wonderland to honor some of the city’s iconic community organizers, professionals, volunteers, creative minds, activists, humanitarians and cultural contributors at the Mason Murer Fine Art Gallery on Sat., Oct. 1, 2011.
GLAAD’s festivities – thanks to the incomparable Dino Thompson-Sarmiento — were nothing short of being impeccable enough for the city to acknowledge and make note of for years to come. Where else could one experience fluorescent purple lighting (and carpet) and white sheer fabric (and cubes) set to mildly pulsating rhythms and ambient sounds courtesy of DJs Mark Gordon (in the decadent VIP room) and Jay McCracken in the main festival area? Or what about a ballerina suspended in mid-air tumbling and dancing from the same fabric as members of the Atlanta Ballet’s Wabi Sabi Dancers flexibly tiptoe around the evening’s guests and honorees? Follow me. Would you like a signature drink named after some of the evening’s honorees courtesy of Rokk Vodka? Did you happen to see the libation’s Greco-Roman looking models (sandals, togas and all)? Let’s go take a glance at live painter Brannon Purvis in the room adjacent to the ceremony area as he creates another warm meshed with cool-colored oil-based original of a nude body on a blank 36×48 stretched canvas. Much like the custom cuisine and hors d’oeuvres, it was truly “A Divine Event!”
Since the organization’s 1985 inception following The New York Post’s ill-fated and harsh coverage of the LGBT community following the then emerging AIDS epidemic, GLAAD has worked and advocated tirelessly to ensure that the news, entertainment industry, pop culture and now social media portray LGBT communities in a critically obsolete yet complimentary fashion. In conjunction with celebrating its 25th anniversary, GLAAD’s Deputy Director of Development, Juan Barajas, even flew in from California to lend his support. “GLAAD brings change into millions of workplaces and homes everyday,” he says before the audience. “GLAAD ensures that people understand who we are and strive towards equality everyday.”
The honorees were said to have made it easier to enjoy equal and human rights. Sally Ringo, Senior Partner for OnlineMarketingMiracle.com and longtime volunteer for GLAAD, received the Champion Award while Emmy Award-winning CNN correspondent/author Don Lemon was awarded the GLAAD Citzen of the Year honor. “This is a beautiful party, and this award has a good place in my heart,” Ringo says. “It’s an anniversary, but I think birthday is a lot more fun. Happy Birthday GLAAD!!” Demanding during his acceptance speech that the audience stifles the idle chatter; excessive comments; cheers and jeers, Lemon says that the work GLAAD does is very important. “If we were a political party, it would be the party of lost souls. Walk in truth, and you’ll never stumble. Be who you are. It’s about time we’re able to be who we are; anything else is hypocritical.”
Supporting honorees include famed business consultant Allen Jones, Joining Hearts’ Executive Director Ben Hadsock, drag performer/humanitarian Bubba D. Licious, iconic drag performer Charlie Brown, special events entrepreneur Chris Coleman, blogger/author Darian Aaron, business manager David Stark, activist Don George, famed African American activist/archivist Duncan Teague, attorney Jeff Cleghorn, Georgia Equality/Equality Foundation of Georgia Executive Director Jeff Graham, food and beverage specialist Jodi Duncan, realtor/Atlanta Executive Network (AEN) Executive Director Justin Ziegler, Atlanta Lesbian Health Initiative Executive Director Linda Ellis, Blake’s on the Park’s “Mama” Lynn Barfield, Caliber Productions owner/CEO Marcus Jackson, Univision Community Affairs Director Mariela Romero, Project Q Atlanta founder/journalist Matt Hennie, photographer/stylist Richie Arpino and his life/business partner actor Mitchel Anderson, political activist/organizer Pat Hussain, financial advisor Paul Horning, Positive Impact Executive Director Paul Plate, Outwrite Bookstore and Coffeehouse owner Phillip Rafshoon, Making Projects Work Executive Vice President/Co-Founder and humanitarian B. Rodney White, attorney Steven Scarborough and Fenuxe Magazine owner Tyler Calkins and its editor-in-chief William Duffee-Braun.
Presenters for the evening include Married…With Children actress/director Amanda Bearse, The Vampire Diaries actress/dancer Kat Graham, journalist Itay Hod and activist Nathan Woodard-Persily. It may have been GLAAD’s first event in Atlanta, but one could only imagine what’s going to happen in years to come.
For more information, log onto http://www.glaad.org/.
Words: Christopher Daniel
Photos: Andrea Taylor