Callen-Lorde Community Health Center, which aims to provide sensitive and quality healthcare for LGBTQ New Yorkers, honored “Pose” star Dominique Jackson, MLB executive Billy Bean, and the New York Liberty during a health-focused event at Chelsea Piers on Nov. 3.
“Healthcare that is delivered by us and for us is never more relevant than today,” Callen-Lorde CEO Patrick McGovern said in a written statement. “Across our nation, we are witnessing a disturbing surge in attacks on life-affirming healthcare, particularly targeting and demonizing members of our transgender community. The same baseless fears, the same malicious demonizing and the same willful ignorance threatens to cast a dark shadow over all LGBTQ+ care.”
The three honorees opened up about their personal stories as they accepted their respective awards in front of more than 650 guests. Dominique Jackson, known for starring as Elektra Abundance, noted that Callen-Lorde has been “instrumental” for her during challenging times.
“As I accept this award, I do so with the knowledge that it is not just a recognition of my work, but a symbol of hope for all transgender and gender-diverse individuals who face unique healthcare challenges,” Jackson said. “It is a testament to the strength of our community, and it serves as a reminder that we are resilient, powerful, and deserving of the highest quality healthcare.”
Bean, meanwhile, has carved out a key role as an MLB executive more than two decades after retiring as a player. He subsequently came out in an interview with the Miami Herald and published his own book, “Going the Other Way: Lessons from a Life in and out of Major League Baseball.” He started off in an ambassador of inclusion role before moving up to become a senior vice president in the commissioner’s office.
“In 2014, MLB asked me to initiate conversations with its players about culture, respect, and inclusion,” Bean said. “At that time, I was the only living major league baseball player, past or present, to disclose themself as gay. It wasn’t easy, but as the one member of both worlds, I dedicated myself, one team at a time, to examining and discussing the bias that for so long went unchecked in professional sports.”
He added: “Two years later, on a tour of Callen-Lorde’s facilities, I immediately thought, how my life and career would have been different if, as a player, I had known to come to Chelsea [to] speak with someone there who understood me, my secret, and willing to educate me about all the things I didn’t know. I am more than humbled by this award. Callen-Lorde inspires me to do better, and I will continue to fight for acceptance, equity, and fairness, for the rest of my life.”
Veteran New York Liberty center Stef Dolson accepted an award on behalf of her team, which reached the WNBA finals this year but lost to the Las Vegas Aces. The Liberty helped to raise tens of thousands of dollars for Callen-Lorde this year.
For her part, Dolson is also no stranger to navigating the coming out process in the sports world. Since coming out in a 2016 ESPN Magazine story, the New York State native has established a long and reliable career as a center in the WNBA.
“After this historic season, everyone knows what the New York Liberty means to this city, the people we represent, and the values that are most important to us,” Dolson said. “This season was even more special knowing we were competing on behalf of Callen-Lorde, the amazing people within the organization, and the recipients of their care. Spending time with the Callen-Lorde team really deepened our perspective and provided even greater intentionality, knowing exactly who we were playing for. As a member of the LGBTQ+ community, our initiative both resonated and motivated me as we competed throughout the Commissioner’s Cup schedule, and ultimately, the Championship.”