Honorees bring energy to 2022 Impact Awards, presented by VillageCareMAX

Impact Awards 2022
The honorees of the 2022 Gay City News Impact Awards, presented by VillageCareMAX.
Corazon Aguirre

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

Paul Schindler
Gay City News Founding Editor

Charles Hughes and Richard Solomon
Lambda Vodka and Lambda Lounge

Desmond Napoles
Be Amazing NYC

Adam Brecht

Apicha Community Health Center

Wolfgang Busch
Art From the Heart LLC

Chris Cabrera
Bacardi

Leslie Cagan
Social Justice and Peace Organizer and Author

William Colón
New York Transgender Advocacy Group

Michael Conwill
The Stonewall Chorale

Kenneth Courtney, Jr.
Courtney Creative PR and Consulting

Robert Croonquist
Youth Arts New York

Jon Robert Del Giorno
Pitta Bishop Del Giorno, LLC

Mark Finley and Michael Zegarski
The Other Side of Silence (TOSOS)

Mauricio Fino
Friend’s Tavern and Viva La Heights Bar

Ben Garcia
The American LGBTQ+ Museum

Denise Hinds
Good Shepherd Services

Roderick L. Jones
Goddard Riverside and The Stanley M. Isaacs Neighborhood Center

John Kaliabakos
Village Apothecary

Kaplan Hecker and Fink LLC

Fred Karger
Gay Rights Activist

Savannah Lauren
Community Healthcare Network

Burt Lazarin
Identity House and Community Board 4

Evie Litwok
Witness to Mass Incarceration

Barbara J. Love
Author and Activist/Veteran Feminists of America

Sir Shefik Macauley
NBC Universal

Félix Rodríguez
Clandestino Productions Inc.

Leandro E. Rodriguez Ramos
Latino Commission on AIDS

Tom Shanahan
Thomas D. Shanahan, PC and Sober Active NYC

Sean Strub

Velsanel Veguilla aka Sophya Medina
Drag Queen
Hispanic AIDS Forum – Latino Pride Center

Ralph Wilson
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]

2022 Gay City News Impact Awards
TD Bank Outstanding Entrepreneur Award recipients Charles Hughes and Richard Solomon from Lambda Lounge and Lambda Vodka.Donna Aceto
VillageCareMAX at the Impact Awards
VillageCareMAX and guests arrive (Rob Goldman fourth from right, Emma DeVito third from right).Donna Aceto
Apicha team accepts an Impact Award
The team at Apicha Community Health Center proudly accepts an Impact Award.Donna Aceto
Honoree Tom Shanahan (middle) with past Impact Award honoree Jeff Simmons (left) and Alfonso Quiroz (right).Corazon Aguirre
Honoree John Kaliabakos (right)
Honoree John Kaliabakos (right) stands with a citation from New York State Assemblymember Rebecca Seawright.Donna Aceto
Honoree Kenneth Courtney makes an entrance down the red carpet.Donna Aceto
2022 Gay City News Impact Awards
The TD Bank team and guests.Corazon Aguirre
Denise Hinds receive a Gay City News Impact Award
Honoree Denise Hinds celebrates after receiving an Impact Award.Donna Aceto
A group of honorees prepare to accept their Impact Awards.
A group of honorees prepare to accept their Impact Awards.Corazon Aguirre
Honorees Velsanel Veguilla aka Sophya Medina and Savannah Lauren CRC.Corazon Aguirre
Honoree William Colón (center), flanked by supporters, heads to the front.Donna Aceto
Honorees Michael Zegarski and Mark Finley.
Honorees Michael Zegarski and Mark Finley.Donna Aceto
Honoree Michael Conwill (sitting in the middle) with guests.
Honoree Michael Conwill (sitting in the middle) with guests.Corazon Aguirre
Honoree Evie Litwok celebrates after receiving an Impact Award.
Honoree Evie Litwok celebrates after receiving an Impact Award.Donna Aceto
Honoree Adam Brecht
Honoree Adam Brecht showcases his new award.Donna Aceto
Honoree Fred Karger raises a fist with his award.Donna Aceto
Honoree Chris Cabrera
Honoree Chris Cabrera shares a moment while holding an Impact Award.Corazon Aguirre
Honoree Wolfgang Busch holds his Impact Award.
Honoree Wolfgang Busch holds his Impact Award.Donna Aceto
Félix Rodríguez
Honoree Félix Rodríguez heads down the red carpet.Donna Aceto
Leandro E. Rodriguez
Leandro E. Rodriguez Ramos and guests.Corazon Aguirre
Matt Tracy with honoree Jon Robert Del Giorno.
Honoree Jon Robert Del Giorno (right) with Matt Tracy.Donna Aceto
The Kaplan Hecker & Fink team.
The Kaplan Hecker & Fink team.Corazon Aguirre
Honorees Robert Croonquist and Leslie Cagan share a moment together.Donna Aceto
Elizabeth Aloni hands an Impact Award to honoree Burt Lazarin.
Elizabeth Aloni greets honoree Burt Lazarin with an Impact Award.Donna Aceto
TOSO honorees and guests
TOSOS (The Other Side of Silence) honorees and guests.Corazon Aguirre
Matt Tracy with honoree Sean Strub
Matt Tracy with honoree Sean Strub.Donna Aceto
Honoree Ben Garcia of the American LGBTQ+ Museum heads to the stage.Corazon Aguirre
Honoree Roderick Jones receives an Impact Award from Elizabeth Aloni.
Honoree Roderick L. Jones receives an Impact Award from Elizabeth Aloni.Donna Aceto
Honoree Leslie Cagan
Honoree Leslie Cagan takes in the moment after receiving her award.Donna Aceto
Sir Shefik Macauley.
Honoree Sir Shefik Macauley smiles after getting an Impact Award.Donna Aceto
Honoree Ralph Wilson.
Honoree Ralph Wilson takes in the moment after receiving an Impact Award.Donna Aceto
Richard Solomon and Charles Hughes surrounded by guests.Corazon Aguirre
Amanda Tarley
Gay City News events director Amanda Tarley speaks on stage.Corazon Aguirre
Past honoree Jay W. Walker with Sheila Marino-Thomas.Corazon Aguirre
Hetrick Martin Institute CEO Joe Pressley (right) and other guests.
Hetrick Martin Institute CEO Joe Pressley (right) and other guests.Corazon Aguirre
Bert Vaccari and Paul Schindler.
Bert Vaccari and Paul Schindler.Corazon Aguirre
Representatives from Friends Tavern and Viva La Heights Bar stand with Honoree Mauricio Fino.
Representatives from Friends Tavern and Viva La Heights Bar stand with Honoree Mauricio Fino.Corazon Aguirre
Jackie and Alex Doskoez show the long list of raffle tickets for the evening.
Jackie and Alex Doskoez show the long list of raffle tickets for the evening.Corazon Aguirre
Alex Roque and guest
Past Impact Award honoree Alex Roque (right), who serves as the executive director of the Ali Forney Center, with a guest.Corazon Aguirre
Susan Rowley, Latiff Robbins, Cathy Marino-Thomas, and Sheila Marino-Thomas.
Susan Rowley, Latiff Robbins, Cathy Marino-Thomas, and Sheila Marino-Thomas.Donna Aceto
Breaking out the rally towels!
Breaking out the rally towels!Corazon Aguirre
Elizabeth Aloni at the VIP networking hour.
Elizabeth Aloni at the VIP networking hour.Donna Aceto
After awards were presented, honorees flocked to the dance stage.
After awards were presented, honorees flocked to the dance stage.Corazon Aguirre

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