City Councilman Philip Reed, who was first elected to represent Upper Manhattan in 1998, called the event a “bittersweet moment for me” as he will be out of office in five weeks due to term limits, but he didn’t sound ready to retire.
“The thing we’re supposed to do in life is follow our passions,” Reed said. “With passion, we never give up.”
He added, “Public health is about social justice if it is about anything,” and excoriated the Bush administration for its assault on health care for poor people.
Dr. Richard Isay, the first out gay member of the American Psychoanalytic Association, praised the public service announcements unveiled at the event by the HIV Forum in cooperation with Callen-Lorde to fight unsafe sex and crystal meth use. The ads feature strong prevention messages from Susan Sarandon, Whoopi Goldberg, and Rosie Perez.
Isay talked about the “great toll crystal meth takes as it raises libido and lowers inhibitions.”
Isay has a new book coming out this spring, “Gay Men and the Need for Romantic Love.”
Claudia Slacik, co-chair of the Callen-Lorde board, said, “Martina Navratilova’s willingness to be out and proud has been fundamental to the mental health of our community” in presenting her the group’s Activist Award. “Her willingness to come out at the height of her career made us proud of her and proud of ourselves.”
“In the fight for equality, we’ve come a long way, baby,” Navratilova said, but added that much remained to be done.
Callen-Lorde also bid goodbye to Dr. Dawn Harbatkin, its medical director, and welcomed Dr. Gal Meyer to the post. Harbatkin is becoming the director at Lyon-Martin Women’s Health Services in San Francisco.
Meyer announced the formation of the Howard J. Brown Society of major donors to the organization, named for the former New York City health commissioner who came out in 1972 after serving in the mayoral administration of John Lindsay and co-founded the National Gay Task Force.
Jay Laudato, executive director of the Chelsea-based Callen-Lorde, said that the center had 45,000 patient visits in the past year and a third of them were provided to the uninsured, for a total of $2.5 million in uncompensated services.