Monday evening I attended the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force's New York Leadership Awards. This year's honoree's were San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom and fashion designer John Bartlett. Presenting the award to Newsom was New York City Council speaker and out lesbian Christine Quinn while the fabulous movie star Lucy Liu was on hand to present the award to Bartlett.
The awards took place at the Kimmel Center on the campus of New York University, which is located in the heart of Greenwich Village. Even with copious construction, the campus is beautiful with an amazing view of the Manhattan skyline.
Guests paid up to $250 per ticket for the standing-room-only reception, which included lavish hors d'oeuvres and an open bar.
Photos, video, a rundown of the evening, and an interview with Gavin Newsom are all after the jump.
The pre-show cocktail hour was designated for VIPs and media to meet with the presenters and honorees. This created a bit of a challenge as time was constrained and one media outlet in particular tried to monopolize Mayor Newsom's time. This created a situation where all of the other outlets had to either buddy up on interview time or skip interviews altogether.
With the compressed schedule, I shared an interview with Mayor Newsom with two other outlets. He's an impressive fellow and much taller than I expected, which was an observation repeated by others at the event. Below are excerpts from the interview; Newsom talks about his future political plans (I'm sure he'll run for Governor) and his thoughts on Iowa and the impact it will have on the California Supreme Court Prop. 8 decision.
Task Force Deputy Executive Director Darlene Nipper opened the event with some brief remarks. She then introduced Task Force Executive Director Rea Carey. Carey spoke about the Iowa decision, but focused her remarks on the upcoming US Census. I wish I had video of her remarks because this is a very important issue for the LGBT community - particularly legally married LGBT couples who will be manually "de-married" and not counted as married couples by the Census.
Carey then introduced New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn. Quinn and Carey attended college together and Quinn is also a past honoree of the NY Leadership Awards.
Quinn broke some news regarding a letter she and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg co-authored demanding that the Census stop the discriminatory practice of de-marrying legally married gay and lesbian couples. She then gave a powerful and passionate introduction to Mayor Gavin Newsom.
Newsom graciously accepted the award tying the fight for LGBT equality to the Civil Rights movement and specifically the Loving v. Virginia Supreme Court decision legalizing interracial marriage.
The other award recipient, John Bartlett, got a star-studded introduction by actress Lucy Liu. Liu was stunningly beautiful and spoke graciously of her friendship and admiration of Bartlett.
When he took the stage, Bartlett told the audience he had prepared a speech, but had decided to speak from the heart. I'm not sure skipping the prepared remarks was a good idea, but the audience seemed to appreciate the sincerity of his words.
The program concluded with a pitch for donations by a Task Force field organizer that included stories about what it's like to be a field organizer on the ground - an interesting angle, for sure, even if it ran somewhat long.
While I was a little surprised at how few potential donors pledged above $1000 at such a swanky event, the economy has hit not-for-profit donations too. There were still plenty of smaller donations and the evening was obviously profitable while garnering publicity and awareness around LGBT issues.