By Tana Michaels
Outstanding members of the Tri-City’s LGBT community were honored at the Perceptions-sponsored third annual Saginaw Valley LGBT Pride Awards Banquet held June 28 at Saginaw’s Andersen Enrichment Center. Perceptions Saginaw Valley is a non-profit, Tri-City LGBT organization.
The awards ceremony, which was held to commemorate the 42nd anniversary of Stonewall and to honor local members of the Tri-City area, was emceed by Dr. Charissa Urbano. She reminded the audience that even though “inequality erodes dignity,” the awards banquet provides an opportunity for healing and belonging.
The night’s keynote speaker was BTL publisher Jan Stevenson, who laid out a plan about what the community could do to make change in Michigan. She urged the audience to organize politically, have responsible leadership and apply meaningful pressure on both allies and enemies.
Four Pride Awards were presented. Pride Awards are given to individuals who show outstanding leadership and commitment through their advocacy of acceptance, equality and respect for all people, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity or expression.
The first Pride Award was presented to Bob and Denise Malosh from Midland for their leadership roles in PFLAG. Mr. Malosh was president and his wife was secretary for many years. They have helped countless other families learn to accept their child’s sexual orientation. They’ve also lobbied in Lansing. Although they’ve given up their official positions at PFLAG, they haven’t stopped being leaders and role models in the community. The Maloshes thanked the group for giving them “hope that their son could find a place in the world where he could be comfortable.”
Rev. Kathy VanBuskirk from Saginaw was honored with a Pride Award for her work in counseling, especially for people in the LGBT community, and for being the founder and director of the first Tri-City LGBT Pride Festival held in Saginaw on June 25 at Ojibway Island. More than 2,000 people attended the festival.
The third Pride Award was earned by Randy Hasso, also from Saginaw, for his volunteer service. Hasso has been generous with his time, talent and resources at the local, regional, state and national levels. He has been an officer or board member of Dignity Tri-Cities, The NAMES Project, Wellness Network Tri-Cities and Perceptions Saginaw Valley, putting in many hours behind the scenes for the success of dozens of projects. “It’s nice to be able to be with a group like this and experience friendship,” Hasso said.
Bill Giorgis from Saginaw was given a Pride Award for his volunteer work in the community. The owner of Mike’s Wrecker Service in Saginaw and an active member of several community groups, he has donated generously to the LGBT community. Giorgis said he was brought up in a giving family that goes by the adage, “give until it feels good. Being able to help is incredibly important.”
The Lifetime Achievement Award was given posthumously to John Monahan for being the first openly gay community activist and organizer in the Tri-City area. Monahan, who died in 2002, was involved with local groups and he lobbied elected officials in Lansing. He was co-founder of the Triangle Foundation, serving as president, and was involved in other LGBT groups.
The Business Award was accepted by Steven Magstadt on behalf of the owners of the Magic Bean Cafe in Saginaw: Lisa Rechsteiner, Eugene Seals, and Stephanie Zeilinger. The Magic Bean Cafe received the award for being a welcoming venue for LGBT meetings as well as for contributing time, money and resources to the LGBT community. Magstadt echoed Stevenson, saying, “I think it’s OK that we get organized. Maybe we do need to get a little pissed off, impatient, get moving and get organized together.”