December 2, 2010
By: Joe Siegel/TRT Reporter
Nearly 200 people were in attendance at the Providence Biltmore last month for Live Out Loud, Youth Pride, Inc.’s (YPI) annual fundraising gala. The event paid tribute to individuals and groups who have made outstanding contributions to the lives of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and Questioning youth.
YPI is Rhode Island’s largest statewide organization devoted to meeting the needs of LGBTQQ youth. Programs include OUTspoken – a leadership training program, one-one counseling, case management, The Way Out – a peer led support group, Gay/Straight Alliance Network Organizing, and an LGBTQQ Task Force for Youth.
Honorary chairs for the event were Providence Mayor David Cicilline, State Representative Frank Ferri (D-Warwick), and Lt. Governor Elizabeth Roberts.
The Founders Award was presented to Anne Marie Sylvia, who has worked in the public health and education field for nearly 40 years managing several non-profits.
Sylvia also served as Executive Director of AIDS Project Rhode Island and currently serves as HIV/Sexuality Specialist at the RI Department of Education.
Sylvia is a consultant to YPI’s Board of Directors.
Beth Vorro, a former YPI Board member, called Sylvia a “passionate and effective” leader.
Sylvia praised the work YPI does on behalf of gay youth, noting it was “rare to find an organization that touches so many people in so many ways.”
“I wish Youth Pride was around 30 years ago when I was coming out,” said Sylvia. “I might have come out sooner.”
CFAR, the Lifespan/Tufts/Brown Center for AIDS Research was the recipient of the Lipsky/Whittaker Award, named for John Lipsky and George Whittaker who were life partners for more than 50 years. Their estate established a Scholarship Fund to benefit LGBTQ youth.
The CFAR is part of a national program begun by the National Institutes of health in 1988. The Lifespan/Tufts/brown CFAR is a collaboration of senior AIDS investigators at the Tufts and Brown Universities and their affiliated hospitals which have stimulated new AIDS research.
Dr. Ken Mayer, Professor of Medicine at Brown Medical School, accepted the award on behalf of CFAR.
“It’s so important to have an organization like YPI to let (LGBTQQ youth) know they’re not alone and to help them transition into living fulfilling lives,” Mayer said.
The Luis Pagan Award, named for a former YPI participant, was presented to Ruby Lazo, a 2010 graduate of The Met High School in Providence. Lazo became involved with YPI during her sophomore year of high school. Lazo helped organize a Day of Silence in her high school, conducted safe-zone trainings throughout New England, and took on the role of OUTspoken’s program assistant.
Lazo pledged that as a straight ally she would “continue Luis’ message of activism and equality.”
“Please continue to share your stories,” Lazo said to the YPI participants in the room. “You have the power to change lives.”
For more information about Youth Pride, Inc., go to www.youthprideri.org or call 421-5626.