MassEquality To Honor Icons of LGBT Equality At New Event

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Inaugural Icon Awards Will Recognize Contributions to LGBT Equality by Boston Mayor Thomas Menino, philanthropist Ron Ansin, community activist Gladys Vega, and Eastern Bank

BOSTON, MA – MassEquality announces that it will honor four icons of LGBT equality at its inaugural Icon Awards. The contributions to LGBT equality by Boston Mayor Thomas Menino, philanthropist Ron Ansin, community activist Gladys Vega, and Eastern Bank will be celebrated and honored at the Icon Awards, which will take place Wednesday, February 29, 2012 from 6-9 p.m. at the State Room at 60 State Street, Boston.

“The Icon Awards recognize people and institutions that have gone above and beyond in supporting LGBT issues. They aren’t just allies – they are symbols of what others should aspire to in their support of LGBT issues,” said MassEquality Executive Director Kara Suffredini. “Those we are honoring on February 29 have demonstrated through their actions that they understand the necessity of doing the right thing, even if it seems unpopular.  That’s what makes them icons, and that’s what makes MassEquality proud to recognize them.”

As a district city councilor from Hyde Park, Thomas Menino championed the need for outreach and education to people with HIV during the early years of the AIDS epidemic. As mayor, he has consistently used his public platform to speak out on behalf of LGBT rights. He worked behind the scenes lobbying Boston lawmakers at the State House to get them to support marriage rights for same-sex couples. And he lobbied for and signed a city ordinance prohibiting discrimination on the basis of gender identity and expression.

Ron Ansin is a philanthropist and former shoe company executive. He is the founder of the Ronald M. Ansin Foundation and has given large sums to numerous LGBT causes and organizations. He is also member of the National Advisory Board for eQualityGiving.org, an online giving community focused on LGBT organizations and causes.

Gladys Vega is the executive director of Chelsea Collaborative and believes that individual empowerment leads to community empowerment. She is a leading organizer in the areas of immigrants’ rights, welfare rights, tenants’ rights, open space and the environment, and multicultural and anti-racism programs. Early last year, when a transgender woman was viciously attacked in Chelsea, Gladys was instrumental in galvanizing the community response to the attack and in working to ensure that political leaders met with members of the LGBT community concerned about the attack.

Eastern Bank has long been a corporate leader in supporting LGBT organizations and equality initiatives through both its financial assistance and its progressive corporate practices. In 2011, Boston Business Journal recognized Eastern Bank as a “Leader in Diversity” for its efforts in corporate social responsibility.