Born in the northern Galilee village of Kofor-Yassif, Morcos helped found a virtual, online forum for Palestinian lesbians in 2003 that grew into ASWAT, which has begun to work with similar groups across the Arab world. In accepting her award on behalf of her group, Morcos (pictured here to the right of Paula Ettelbrick, IGLHRC’s executive director) emphasized that ASWAT aims to create a “safe space” that respects three vital characteristics of all the women it serves.

“Our power as women and as lesbians and as Palestinians is not choosing one identity on top of the other but insisting that there is a way to create space for all,” she said. “I am all of these identities. I am a lesbian and I am a woman and I am a Palestinian and these three cannot be separated.”

The evening also honored the longtime contributions of Andrew Tobias, the financial writer who more than three decades ago wrote the famous coming out memoir “Best Little Boy in the World” under a pseudonym and in recent years served as the first out gay Democratic National Committee treasurer. In introducing the honoree, Hossein Alizadeh, a gay political asylum immigrant from Iran now working for the Fellowship of Reconciliation, a world peace organization in Nyack, recalled how Tobias joined gay Massachusetts Congressman Barney Frank in a 1992 IGLHRC-sponsored trip to Russia to press for repeal of that nation’s sodomy law. The Russian sodomy statute was abolished the following year.

Alizadeh also talked about how Tobias provided financial support during the past year to the Persian Gay and Lesbian Organization, an Iranian exile group that has been mobilizing international attention to and pressure against the executions of gay men that have been stepped up since the presidency of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad began last year.

—Paul Schindler