The Pride Network, which provides professional development for young LGBTQ leaders, recognized former New York State Senator Tom Duane and advocate, author, and Garden State Equality project manager Damien Alan Lopez at the organization’s annual awards ceremony in Manhattan on Oct. 21.
The evening of celebration — held at The Green Fig at YOTEL, a Manhattan hotel — featured live jazz music, an auction, and a post-gala VIP party. The proceeds from the event are used to fund The Pride Network’s Transformational Leadership Initiative, which offers leadership training, skill-building workshops, and social impact grants.
Duane and Antonio Pagán were the first out gay members of the New York City Council. Duane later went on to be the first out gay person and only out HIV-positive member elected to the State Senate. Duane was the second out member of the State Legislature, following out lesbian Assemblymember Deborah Glick, who remains in office today.
According to Garden State Equality, Lopez has been a transgender advocate and speaks at health and education seminars focusing on trans inclusion and being trans. Lopez has also organized fundraising events to push back against anti-trans laws.
According to The Pride Network’s website, the organization gives emerging and established LGBTQ leaders the tools and opportunities they need to cultivate “heart-centered” professional, emotional, physical, and spiritual development.
The Pride Network’s executive director, Jacob Rudolph, said The Pride Network has been hosting the event for more than a decade, but this year’s ceremony felt like a “remarkable departure” from the past thanks to improvements in the “quality and scale of our programing, fundraising, and in this annual event.”
“Though it is our 15th year celebrating the contributions of queer leaders, in many ways, this feels like an inaugural event,” Rudolph said. “I’m deeply proud of the work we have done.”