Dozens of LGBTQ individuals and allies who have delivered positive change to the queer community were honored at Russo’s on the Bay in Queens on November 9 at the seventh annual Gay City News Impact Awards, presented by VillageCareMAX.
There was much anticipation for this year’s event after back-to-back years of hybrid and virtual ceremonies due to the coronavirus pandemic. This year marked the first time since 2019 that it was held in the usual full, in-person format — and it did not disappoint.
Honorees stepped into the spotlight and onto the stage at Russo’s on the Bay, where hundreds of attendees cheered with excitement as each award winner made their way down the red carpet — to the tune of their own songs — and accepted their awards.
Honorees received personal introductions as they approached the stage, giving the audience an opportunity to learn more about their accomplishments and contributions to the community. Further details about all of the honorees and their backgrounds will be available in the November 17 edition of Gay City News.
VillageCareMAX graciously supported the 2022 Gay City News Impact Awards as the presenting partner.
“Our job is to support people, support communities,” said Emma DeVito, the president and CEO of VillageCareMAX. “We stepped up to the plate in the early ’90s and supported individuals with HIV and AIDS. Today we serve over 20,000 individual seniors; we provide community-based services. We’re here tonight because we want to encourage, support, and celebrate the LGBT community.”
The event was also sponsored by TD Bank, Breed Evolution Corp., Apicha Community Health Center, East Midtown Partnership, Village Apothecary, and Ms. Jessie’s.
The evening featured three special breakout awards. Gay City News founding editor Paul Schindler was the recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award, sponsored by VillageCareMAX and presented by Emma DeVito, the president and CEO of VillageCareMAX.
Schindler retired as editor-in-chief of Gay City News at the end of 2020 — and he made it a point in his acceptance speech to express dismay over the homophobia and transphobia that has surged across the country in recent years. Between the legislative attacks on trans youth and the rhetoric branding gay people as “groomers,” he said such language is reminiscent of Anita Bryant’s homophobic “Save the Children” campaign.
“Forty-six years have passed, and once again, we’re hearing the same poisonous rhetoric,” Schindler said. “I was in high school when the Supreme Court ruled on Roe v. Wade and I was in grade school when the Voting Rights Act was passed.”
Drawing applause from the crowd, Schindler also congratulated the other trailblazers in the room.
“I want to acknowledge and praise my fellow honorees who have contributed so much to our community and who have so much to say and to teach all of us,” he said.
The second special breakout award of the evening was presented to Charles Hughes and Richard Solomon, who received the TD Bank Outstanding Entrepreneur Award. Steven Garibell, vice president of LGBTQ2+ Business Development at TD Bank, welcomed Hughes and Solomon to the stage, where they were recognized for their work as co-founders of the spirits brand Lambda Vodka and the nightlife venues Lambda Lounge and Club Lambda.
Hughes and Solomon are known for establishing LGBTQ spaces catering to queer people of color, bringing much-needed diversity to the nightlife space in New York City. The couple delivered an emotional speech about the tough but rewarding work they endure in navigating the business side of their work.
The final special award was the Teen Advocate Award, sponsored by Breed Evolution Corp. That award was given to Desmond Napoles, who is an LGBTQ advocate, genderfluid model, published author, and founder of online communities for LGBTQ and gender-variant youth.
The honorees represented areas such as activism, law, non-profit, entertainment, and more — and they collectively demonstrated the wide reach of their impact on different corners of society.
In highlighting the honorees, Gay City News events director Amanda Tarley praised their determination and success.
“Tonight is a celebration of individuals who make a difference and leave people better than they found them,” Tarley said.
THE 2022 HONOREES
Gay City News Founding Editor
Charles Hughes and Richard Solomon
Lambda Vodka and Lambda Lounge
Be Amazing NYC
Apicha Community Health Center
Art From the Heart LLC
Social Justice and Peace Organizer and Author
New York Transgender Advocacy Group
The Stonewall Chorale
Kenneth Courtney, Jr.
Courtney Creative PR and Consulting
Youth Arts New York
Jon Robert Del Giorno
Pitta Bishop Del Giorno, LLC
Mark Finley and Michael Zegarski
The Other Side of Silence (TOSOS)
Friend’s Tavern and Viva La Heights Bar
The American LGBTQ+ Museum
Good Shepherd Services
Roderick L. Jones
Goddard Riverside and The Stanley M. Isaacs Neighborhood Center
Kaplan Hecker and Fink LLC
Gay Rights Activist
Community Healthcare Network
Identity House and Community Board 4
Witness to Mass Incarceration
Barbara J. Love
Author and Activist/Veteran Feminists of America
Sir Shefik Macauley
Clandestino Productions Inc.
Leandro E. Rodriguez Ramos
Latino Commission on AIDS
Thomas D. Shanahan, PC and Sober Active NYC
Velsanel Veguilla aka Sophya Medina
Hispanic AIDS Forum – Latino Pride Center
Live Out Loud
Approximately 400 guests were in attendance — including several past Impact Award honorees such as activists Jay W. Walker and Cathy Marino-Thomas; New York Transgender Advocacy Group co-founder and executive director Kiara St. James; Lucciano Reberte of the Latino Commission on AIDS; Henrietta Hudson owner Lisa Cannistraci; Ali Forney Center executive director Alexander Roque; and others. There were also several LGBTQ leaders on hand to support honorees, including Congressmember Mondaire Jones and Hetrick Martin Institute CEO Joe Pressley.
The Gay City News Impact Awards Gala raises funds for a local non-profit organization — and this year it was New Alternatives for LGBTQ Homeless Youth. There was a raffle with three prizes and 100% of raffle proceeds will be donated.
At the conclusion of the award presentations, honorees and guests alike flocked to the center of the ballroom at Russo’s on the Bay to dance on the red carpet and celebrate.
To learn more about the Impact Awards or nominate individuals for 2023, please contact Amanda Tarley at [email protected]
Sneak peek of the 2022 Gay City News Impact Awards, presented by @villagecaremax. pic.twitter.com/yg8yMARWr1
— Gay City News (@GayCityNews) November 17, 2022