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WARREN – About 330 people mingled on June 22 at the Ukrainian Cultural Center for the 21st Pride Banquet where former Detroit City Council member Maryann Mahaffey made a special appearance.
Upon Mahaffey’s arrival, Triangle Foundation Executive Director and the banquet’s co-host Jeffrey Montgomery introduced her as a “striking, consistent and steadfast supporter.” The audience stood and applauded her longstanding commitment to the LGBT community.
“Though I’m retired, I will continue to pay attention because if one of us is diminished, all of us are,” Mahaffey said.
Following her brief speech, a moment of silence was observed for LGBT community members that have passed. In addition, an empty table was held with place settings in their honor.
The evening’s co-host, Craig Covey, Midwest AIDS Prevention Project executive director, described the event as more than just politically correct.
“We do it because it’s the right thing to do, but it’s also fun and it’s also valuable,” he said.
Previous winners and community members handed out 30 awards to “The Stars of Tomorrow,” the theme for the evening.
Thomas Zerafa received one of 13 Community Service Awards for his achievements. Before receiving his award, he said, “My first reaction was, ‘At least it’s not a Lifetime Achievement Award.’ My work isn’t done yet. But then again, I guess it’s a plateau to look back at, but there’s still a mountain to climb.”
The late Joseph S. James received the Lifetime Achievement Award. Hank Millbourne, president of the Black Pride Society, accepted the award on behalf of James and his family, reminiscing on James’ directness to people he encountered and his dedication to his work at what is now called the Black Pride Society.
“He leaves to us and for us a legacy of commitment, of dedication, of community service, of grass roots organizing, of political activism and a social awareness that’s needed to build, nurture and empower our communities,” he said. “He leaves a legacy of a life that deserves this honor that we give him today. He was Joseph James, my friend. I miss him.”
Imani Williams won the Media Award for her work at Between The Lines.
“It is an honor to go out and get stories of people in this community,” Williams said. “Just keep being you, and it’ll keep me working.”
Although Rev. Mark Bidwell was proud of winning the Unity Award, he said there are people that deserved it above him.
“I do believe that one of the things that I do well is that I work within the various organizations within our community and try to promote unity in a sense of working together, that there is more power and more strength in us joining forces then in trying to be separate organizations,” he said before he accepted his award.
Rising Star Award winner Chad Grandy couldn’t attend the evening’s gala because he had to attend a legal hearing in New York for his arrest during the Equality Ride, a bus expedition across the U.S. to promote equal rights for LGBT people. Triangle Foundation accepted it on his behalf.
Other awardees included Paramount Back (Business Award), Reynaldo Magdaleno and Mike Flores (MAPP Award), Craig Covey (Cultural Award), Beverly Davidson (Political Award), George Westerman (Volunteer of the Year), Nancy Katz and Stephanie Newman (Pride Award), and Kimya Afi Ayodele, Tito Guttierrez, Grace McClelland and Suzanne Wait (Spirit of Detroit Awards).
Community Service Award recipients were: Nicole Adelman, Ashley’s Flowers, Dean Bach, Laurie Bechhofer, Karen Dillaman & Jo Ellen Ploeger, Nkosi Figueroa, Michael Mirto, Laura Mitchum, Dawn Niemisto, Jerry Sima, Deacon Jo Smith, Roland Smith, Denise Watch and Tom Zerafa.