By: Chuck Colbert/TRT Reporter–
Once again the annual black-tie gala of dinner and dancing was a huge success, drawing 1,300 (mostly gay), bisexual, and transgender men and (some women) to the Boston Marriott Copley Place.
There, on Saturday, March 3, the Men’s Event raised more than $600K in cash, pledges, and in-kind support.
That figure also included more than $225K from a challenge grant to support life-saving services and programs for LGBT people.
Boston-based Fenway Health provides medical care and other services and programs to LGBT people
A highlight of Fenway Health’s 2012 Men’s Event was honoring US Representative Barney Frank with the Gerry E. Studds Award.
Named after the late Massachusetts congressman, the award is given each year at men’s gathering to honor individuals of “integrity and selflessness who embody the spirit of service and provide positive leadership for the LGBT community.”
US Representative Niki Tsongas introduced Frank, and along with others, presented him with the award.
Frank, who recently announced he would not seek re-election, has also said he and his partner Jim Ready are engaged to be married.
In her remarks, Tsongas took note of their engagement and the nearly eight years of same-sex marriage in Massachusetts.
“Isn’t it great to live in a state where same-sex marriage is celebrated and not debated,” she said.
Frank said the couple would marry while he is still serving in Congress.
In his remarks, Frank also offered observations on the advances made toward LGBT equality.
“We did it first by being honest about who we are,” said Frank.
“As we have been honest about who we are, the country has learned that we are their relatives, co-workers, employees, students, teachers, doctors, and patients,” he said.
The openness about us, Frank said, “Defeated the prejudice,” which was based on “ignorance.”
And yet, he said, the LGBT community needs to remain “politically mobilized.”
“We are poised to win full legal equality in most of the country within the next ten years,” Frank said.
Furthermore, “We are beyond acceptance. They can shove acceptance. We need and demand respect,” said Frank.
But to win the fight, he said, stay “politically active” and “get out and vote.”
“This election in November is enormously important for us,” Frank said.
Altogether, the Men’s Event drew nearly a dozen elected officials, including US Representative David Cicilline (Rhode Island), Massachusetts State Treasurer Steve Grossman, State Senator Sonia Chang-Diaz, and State Representatives Liz Malia and Carl Sciortino.
City of Boston officials also in attendance were Mayor Thomas M. Menino, City Councilors Rob Consalvo, John Connolly, Matt O’Malley, and Ayanna Pressley
Cambridge City Councilor Denise Simmons was also there.
In a new feature, the Men’s Event employed social media so that attendees could find a friend’s table on the ballroom map and view live Twitter and Flickr feeds.
The mobile Web site, www.welcometothe.mensevent.org, was a first for Fenway Health, also allowing attendees to browse live and silent auction items, create shopping lists, and make silent-auction bids — all via smart phones.
In addition, the mobile site allowed people to make donations online, tweet the event, and submit photos for an online photo gallery.
The Twitter feed and photo gallery were projected on screen in the ballroom during the dance party.
Jeff Dugan, Scott Kearnan and David Zimmerman were chairs for the event.
Comedian Kate Clinton served as emcee for The Men’s Event, which is one of Fenway’s signature fundraisers and one of the LGBT’s community’s largest such affairs in New England.
Even though it was an event primarily for gay men, Clinton suggested to male attendees that women’s health — what many people consider now to be under attack by right wing social conservatives — is also their issue.
Clinton mustered her considerable wit to drive that point home.
“Personhood amendments. Invasive ultra sounds. Against contraceptives. Women are the new gays,” she said. “A lot of you guys might not think this has anything to do with you,” Clinton said. “But it does because Republicans want smaller government — small enough to fit in my vagina.”
“If the far right can insult women, you are next — again,” she said. “Soon sperm and eggs will be people, too. If women can be put in jail for mishandling eggs, you guys are next. Expect sperm-spillage laws. Masturbation is murder. That’s the road we are going down,” Clinton said.