Bronx LGBTQ Hosts First Annual Bronx Pride Awards Dinner

Bronx LGBT Pride celebrated its first annual Bronx Pride Awards Dinner last Tuesday to honor the work of individuals who are active in the LGBTQ community.


Diva Jackie Dupree

As people mingled during the cocktail hour at the Eastwood Manor, Peter C. Frank was hard at work making sure the night ran smoothly. “You can see how stressful this is but I love it.” said Frank, organizer of the Bronx Pride Awards Dinner and Secretary of the Bronx LGBTQ Center.

The night comprised of dinner, music, and entertainment from various performers including singer Aaron Paul. A silent auction was also included in the event’s activities, including items like a guitar autographed by B.B. King and an autographed album of Prince’s Purple Rain. Hostess Diva Jackie Dupree kept the crowd laughing with her boisterous singing.

Of course, the awards were the highlight of the night. Being presented with the Christine Jorgensen Trailblazer Award was Sean Coleman. Even though Coleman was unable to attend, he was being honored for his work with Destination Tomorrow, an organization that focuses on the eradication of homelessness within the LGBTQ community. “What we want to do is make sure that the transgender community is not forgotten and to form programs for LGBTQ youth. The struggle may be unpredictable but Sean is working towards making things better.” said Melissa Sklarz.

IMG_1247Lissette Marrero, MSW, was presented with the Luis Freddy Molano-Polanco Advocacy in Health Award by Dr. Donna Flutterman. For her work with the Adolescent AIDS Program at the Children’s Hospital at Montefiore, Marrero expressed feeling an overwhelming sense of love from the attendee’s but reminded everyone that advocacy is important to community health. “Tonight is about advocacy and the fact remains that the LGBT community experiences more poor health outcomes than their straight counterparts. In order to improve the quality of care we must address the social determinations of health that impact the LGBT and HIV affected community.”

While the honoree was previously kept a surprise before the event, Justice Richter presented the Swish Bronx Ally Award to Judge Linda Poust-Lopez. Justice Richter described Judge Lopez as someone who has worked with the LGBTQ community through dealing with trafficking issues, prostitution, and as someone who cares about the Bronx. “For anyone who grew up in the Bronx, they know how significant it is that we are all here at a Bronx pride dinner tonight. When I first started my career, I noticed that the LGBT community never kept quiet but always went to their elected officials as well as took to the streets to protest and always stuck together while keeping a sense of humor.” said Judge Linda Poust-Lopez.


Reverend Kennedy recounting stories of the first Pride March in 1970.

A big theme for the night was the pride felt at being able to hold an awards dinner in the Bronx that focused on the LGBTQ community. “Back in 1969, before Stonewall, if you were caught in drag the cops would beat you and take your jewelry. But in 1970, we had our first march.” said Reverend Kennedy as she recounted stories of the Stonewall Riots, being chased by police, and being in the first Gay Pride march.

Reverend Kennedy presented actor and female impersonator, James Palacio, with The Rev. Magora E. Kennedy Stonewall Courage Award. Best known for his role as Fiona in the HBO television series Oz, Palacio thanked his mother for accepting and supporting him throughout his life. “The LGBT community has always struggled with being accepted by society. Do not let anyone tell you who you are based on their views of how sexual orientation should be. Being who you are, no matter the hardships, involved is what courage is.” said Palacio.

Also expressing awe at attending a dinner for the LGBTQ community was Tyra A. Ross, a writer from Tobago and advocate for transgender youth. “What all of this is about, is that transgender people are not just there to perform but we are intellectuals and people who deserve your support.” She talked about struggling for 25 years with her mother to get her immigration paperwork done because of her identity, finally receiving her greencard this year. “The trans community had to come forward so that each and every one of you can walk in that [Pride] parade. I could have chosen to hide but decided I was not going to cut my hair or wear boy clothes…I decided to be me.” said Ross before receiving the Brenda Howard Community Spirit of Pride Award presented by Appolonia Cruz.

The DJ Frankie Knuckles Pride in the Arts Award was presented by Aaron Paul to The Bronx Council of the Arts’ Longwood Art Gallery at Hostos. The Longwood Art Gallery has featured many art exhibits from and about underrepresented communities. “I welcome all artists, especially those who are active in their communities. This is the moment that we all are entitled to equal rights.” said Juanita Lanzo, Longwood Arts Project Coordinator.

IMG_1322Being given The Storme DeLarverie Memorial Award was The Bronx Chronicle very own contributor Lewis H. Goldstein. Presented by Justin Lowery, he described being welcomed by Lewis at the Stonewall Inn during a Democratic meeting and thanked him for helping the young 17 year old to find his voice. In his speech, Lewis spoke about his hopes as an idealistic 20 year old as well as his hope for the future, “I do feel that not only I, but my generation is now passing the torch to a new generation. We have a new generation which is capable of making real change in this nation.”

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