BTL staff report
WARREN – Lots of cheering greeted the many awardees at the 22nd Annual Pride Banquet June 13. The annual tribute to activists and volunteers drew about 400 people to the Ukrainian Cultural Center.
“This is one of the few events where many groups collaborate to produce a positive and fun event for the whole community,” said event co-chair Craig Covey, president of the Midwest AIDS Prevention Project, one of the groups that work in partnership to produce the annual affair. The other groups are Affirmations Community Center, the Triangle Foundation and Black Pride Society.
Among the many high points of the evening was the presentation of the Cultural Award to Al Gamaya, a group of Arabic and Middle Eastern LGBT people. “Our community is the last group to be brought into the LGBT community,” said the group’s co-chair upon accepting the award. “We have the double task of bringing our community to you too.”
Robbin Yelverton from Blumz Florists accepted the Business Award and got a laugh with the quip, “We’re just two farm boys gone bad,” in reference to himself and his business and life partner, Jerome Raska.
Michelle Brown, BTL columnist, author, activist and poet, won the Media Award. She encouraged people to find their voices and thanked the community for giving her such colorful material to write about.
Here is a complete list of the awardees:
Community Service Awards were presented to Matt Crawford, Howard “Bud” Easton, FAVOR (the Ferndale Alliance that successfully worked to pass a non-discrimination ordinance), Torii Hamilton, Kimberly Jones, Jenni Mahoney, Brian Malkowski, Chris Pollum & Dave Wait, Susan Reck, Kate Runyon, Linda Schneider and Deanna Tocco.
Business Award – Jerome Raska of Blumz Florist; Cultural Award – Al Gamaya; Media Award – Michelle Brown; Political Award – Jon Stryker; Pride Award – J. Charlene Genther, author of “Badge 3483”; Rising Star Awards – Skylar Pukmarada & Lance Hicks; Sports Award – Randy Albright of the BTI Bowling League; Volunteer of the Year Award – John DiDonato; Unity Award – Tih Penfil; Lifetime Achievement Award – LeRoy Scott; Spirit of Detroit Awards – Susan Crocker, Rick Henning, Fred Huebener and Dart Nichols.