The Harvey Milk Foundation along with The Pride Center presents Diversity Honors will be hosted by the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Florida from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Saturday, May 9. This milestone event will recognize national honoree Judy Shepard, founder of the Matthew Shepard Foundation, plus several South Florida leaders who have made a significant impact on improving the quality of life for the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) community. Special host presenter will be Stuart Milk, co-founder and president of the Harvey Milk Foundation.
Emceed by WSVN-TV’s Craig Stevens, the gala will celebrate South Florida forces for change including international recording artist Deborah Cox, President and Founder of the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council Rand Hoch, nationally recognized teen activist and honorary co-founder of the Transkids Purple Rainbow Foundation Jazz Jennings, celebrity entertainer Elaine Lancaster (James Davis), CEO of Planned Parenthood of South Florida Lillian Tamayo, 11th Judicial Circuit Court of Florida Miami Judge William Thomas and Fort Lauderdale Commissioner Dean Trantalis.
“The Harvey Milk Foundation is proud to make history along with the Pride Center at Equality Park to debut this event, which will celebrate the power and resolve of adversity,” said Milk. “There has been a tremendous amount of progress for equal rights and acceptance around the world, but we have a lot more work to do. This event will allow us to showcase our achievements and celebrate those who have and continue to advocate for equality.”
Judy Shepard will accept the coveted Harvey Milk Honors Medal. In October 1998, Judy and Dennis Shepard lost their 21 year-old son, Matthew, to a murder motivated by anti-gay hate. Matthew’s death moved many thousands of people around the world to attend vigils and rallies in his memory. Determined to prevent others from suffering their son’s fate, Judy and Dennis decided to turn their grief into action and established the Matthew Shepard Foundation. The Foundation is dedicated to working toward the causes championed by Matthew during his life: social justice, diversity awareness & education, and equality for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people.
Judy Shepard is the founding president of the Matthew Shepard Foundation Board of Directors, and served as its first executive director from 1999 to 2009. In her continuing role as board president, she travels across the nation speaking to audiences about what they can do as individuals and communities to make this world a more accepting place for everyone, regardless of race, religion, ethnicity, sex, gender identity and expression or sexual orientation. Speaking from a mother’s perspective, Judy also authored a 2009 memoir, “The Meaning of Matthew,” exploring the family’s journey through the prosecution of Matthew’s assailants, the ensuing media coverage, and their continuing work to advance civil rights. She and Dennis continue to make their home in Casper, Wyoming.
“We couldn’t be prouder to co-present an event that brings together the leaders of Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach Counties and showcases leadership in diversity and equality in South Florida and beyond,” said Robert Boo, chief executive officer at The Pride Center at Equality Park. “The Pride Center at Equality Park has a long history of being at the forefront of promoting positive gay role models and this event symbolizes our strong commitment to all those we serve and our generous supporters who stand behind our mission.”
Honorary event hosts will include Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Senator Bill Nelson, City of Fort Lauderdale Mayor Jack Seiler, Broward County Mayor Tim Ryan and City of Wilton Manors Mayor Gary Resnick.
Diversity Honors sponsors include Serendipity Foundation, Ketel One, Whole Foods, Johnnie Walker, WSVN-TV, GPR | Goodman Public Relations and Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Hollywood. Media sponsors include Hotspots Magazine, Agenda, Genre Latino, Guy Magazine, Mark’s List, She Magazine, South Florida Gay News and Wire.
Tickets for Diversity Honors are $150 per person; corporate tables of 10 are $1,500. For more information, visit http://www.diversityhonors.com.
About The Harvey Milk Foundation
The Harvey Milk Foundation is a global non-profit NGO that promotes Harvey Milk’s inspiring legacy through human rights education and global outreach. In 1977, Harvey Milk (1930-1978) became the first openly LGBT elected official to a major office in the United States. He was assassinated in San Francisco’s City Hall 11 months later. The all-volunteer run foundation was founded by Harvey’s nephew, Stuart Milk, and Anne Kronenberg, Harvey’s campaign manager and political aide. Today, the Harvey Milk Foundation provides on-the-ground support and award-winning programing to struggling and emerging LGBT communities on 5 continents with over four dozen dedicated volunteer leaders and long term partnerships in 31 nations. For more information, please visit http://www.milkfoundation.org.
About The Pride Center at Equality Park
For more than 20 years, The Pride Center has provided a welcoming, safe space – an inclusive home – that celebrates, nurtures and empowers the LGBT communities and our friends and neighbors in South Florida. The Pride Center’s programs and services meet the distinct socio-economic, health, spiritual, and safety needs of the LGBT community. It hosts more than 60 regular meeting groups each month and more than 35,000 adults and youth attend activities at the Center, each year. Outreach activities over the past year directly impacted 50,000 residents and visitors to South Florida. The Pride Center is a major site for HIV testing and prevention, education and counseling and offers holistic and comprehensive support programs for persons living with HIV/AIDS, including the nationally acclaimed PALS Project. For more information, visit http://www.pridecenterflorida.org.