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Gala Midtown Fundraiser Promotes Group’s Work Towards LGBT Equality
By Nathan James
Last night, the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) held its annual summer event, GLAAD Manhattan, at Midtown’s Eventi Hotel. The gala, which raises funds to continue the agency’s work as a media watchdog and LGBT-rights advocacy group, brought out a galaxy of stars for a Red Carpet, Las Vegas-style gaming, and an auction of items donated by artists and corporate sponsors.
Media outlets as diverse as the Elvis Duram Show, GO Magazine, and People Magazine lined up to cover the Red Carpet, which featured personalities such as Musical Chairs actress and transgender advocate Laverne Cox, Broadway actor Nick Adams, celebrity photographer Mike Ruiz, MSNBC’s Thomas Robers, model Isis King, Carmen Carrera of RuPaul’s Drag Race, nightclub fixture Amanda Lepore, Claudia Martinez Reardon, Liz Margulies, and Amy Poliakoff of the upcoming Bravo TV series Gallery Girls, plus stylist Derek Warburton, Rent‘s MJ Rodriguez, and recording artists Martha Wash and Kimberley Locke.
Patrons were feted with live musical performances, hors d’oeuvres and cocktails on the hotel’s open-air deck overlooking a huge Jumbotron, on which was shown the Olympic Games and screencaps of GLAAD’s recent achievements on behalf of the LGBT community. For a donation as little as $20, attendees could get $500 in “fun money” for use at the gaming tables, which included roulette, cards, and Vegas-style slots.
GLAAD executive Rich Ferraro said, “It’s a big night for us, and I’m happy to see such a turnout.” Throngs of people arrived to join in the evening’s festivities, which were sponsored by Ketel One Vodka, Bravo TV, and Miller 64. ”The work GLAAD does on behalf of the transgender community is so vital to us,” noted Laverne Cox, who has made tributes to the transgender community at the GLAAD Out Auction with Isis King.
Among GLAAD’s recent achievements were its support of JCPenney’s hiring of out talk show hostess Ellen DeGeneres despite anti-gay group One Million Moms’ attempted boycott of the retail chain, and its “National Same-Sex Kiss-In Day At Chick-Fil-A” in response to that company’s financial support of anti-gay groups. Mike Ruiz, accompanied by his father and partner Martin Berusch, said “This is what we’re all about,” referencing the agency’s efforts to achieve full equality for LGBT Americans.
GLAAD is primarily funded through popular public subscription, corporate sponsorship of its events, including the iconic GLAAD Media Awards, and fundraisers throughout the year.