Inaugural Youth Impact Awards to be presented to Jack Antonoff, Billy Porter, Zeke Thomas
The Ruth Ellis Legacy Award “honors individuals who embody the spirit, grace and generosity of the nonprofit organization’s namesake, an African-American lesbian who opened her home and heart to members of the LGBTQ community in Detroit as early as the 1930s.”
This year, iconic stand-up comedian and actress Margaret Cho has been selected by the Ruth Ellis Center to receive the Legacy Award at its annual VOICES Gala at 7 p.m. on Sept. 27 at the Sound Board Theater inside MotorCity Casino Hotel in Detroit.
Cho has long been active in social justice causes, including anti-racism, anti-bullying and homeless and gay rights campaigns. Her advocacy work has been recognized by organizations like the ACLU, the National Organization for Women, GLAAD and PFLAG.
“I’m incredibly honored to receive this award and the timing is impeccable,” said Cho. “My spirits have been so low regarding the current political climate and this accolade reminds me there is so much to rejoice in, to band together and celebrate. The light is here if we seek it.”
During the gala, produced by EMMY, Peabody and NAACAP-nominated Michael Matuza the inaugural Youth Impact Awards will be presented. They recognize individuals or organizations who are “providing visibility, inspiration and hope to LGBTQ young people nationwide.”
The awards will be accepted by The Ally Coalition – GRAMMY-winning recording artists Jack Antonoff and Andrew Dost; Billy Porter, winner of the 2013 Tony Award for Best Actor in a Musical for his role as Lola in Kinky Boots; and Zeke Thomas, the activist, music producer, DJ, and son of legendary Detroit Pistons Hall of Fame Point Guard Isiah Thomas.
As one of REC’s most vocal national supporters, The Ally Coalition played a critical role in making the Ruth Ellis Health and Wellness Center a reality for hundreds of LGBTQ youth in metro Detroit.
“All of us at Ruth Ellis Center are beyond thrilled to welcome Margaret, Jack (The Ally Coalition), Billy, and Zeke to VOICES 2018. Each has dedicated their time, talent, resources, and voice to promote a more diverse, inclusive, and equitable world for the young people at REC, and LGBTQ youth around the globe. We are humbled by their excitement to be a part of this year’s gala, and look forward to what we know will be a VOICES unlike any other in previous years,” said Mark Erwin-McCormick, Director of Development and Advancement at the REC.
The VOICES Gala is REC’s signature event, which provides critical funding to the organization’s operations while also recognizing its many dedicated supporters. Incorporated in 1999, The REC works to build positive futures with LGBTQ young people experiencing barriers to housing, health and wellness. Roughly 400 guests including community members, volunteers, staff, youth, and sponsors are expected to attend. A VIP reception will take place before the main event at 6 p.m.