New York Leadership Awards 2009

View the photo gallery

The talented Lucy Liu presented honoree
John Bartlett with his award.
(Photo by Peter Lau Photography)

Our 2009 New York Leadership Awards on April 6 was an exciting evening, full of flashbulbs, celebrities and passion. From the venue with its spectacular view of the city lights to our honorees and amazing presenters, our guests enjoyed a very New York event.

Taking place high atop New York University’s handsome Kimmel Center, flashbulbs popped as actress Lucy Liu and honoree John Bartlett welcomed the crowd. San Francisco Mayor and honoree Gavin Newsom, truly a rock star in his own right, and our own New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, were there too, also bathed in the photographers’ strobes.

After a wonderful cocktail hour designed for that most New York of activities — schmoozing, Rev. Darlene Nipper, the Task Force’s deputy executive director welcomed our guests. Executive Director Rea Carey spoke about our wins in Iowa and Vermont, contrasting them with the very real possibility of many of us being deliberately “unmarried” by the U.S. census, reminding us that there is always more to be done.

Quinn, in presenting Newsom with his Leadership Award, remarked on how much she depends on the advice of the Task Force in to her advocacy for the local community. She also spoke movingly of what the images of the mayor marrying our community meant and means to not only the LGBT community but all fair-minded people.

Newsom thrilled our guests with his speech, by turns humorous, self-deprecating and moving. His message to us was, paraphrasing Dr. King, that the arc of the universe does indeed bend toward justice. The mayor assured us that equality, including marriage equality, will be won someday in the not very distant future.

We were then very fortunate to have Lucy Liu make our Leadership Award presentation to John Bartlett. She spoke of growing up “different” as both an Asian American and as the child of immigrants. She applauded Bartlett for using his own outsider status to inform his creativity and his fashion design.

Bartlett, in his acceptance, spoke from the heart. He remarked that, while we in the U.S. certainly don’t have the rights we deserve, our brothers and sisters in places like Iraq are being murdered simply for being gay or lesbian. He told us that receiving the award renewed his dedication to his art and to making sure it reflected his feelings about sexuality and gender.

The Task Force is grateful to the members of the event’s host committee, led by board members Jeff Adler, Mark Sexton and Paula Redd Zeman, and further comprising board members Eric von Kuersteiner, Moonhawk River Stone and Michelle Stecker, in addition to Adam Becker, Suman Chakraborty, Ryan Greenberg, Ken Kidd, Nicholas Nicholson and Clay Williams.

Special thanks also go to all our sponsors who, with our guests, enabled the Task Force to raise nearly $100,000. Our generous Platinum donors were board co-chair Mark M. Sexton and his partner, Kirk Wallace, and the law firm of Skadden, Arps, Meagher & Flom, LLP. Gold sponsors included the Law Offices of Kevin J. Farrelly, David Kane, Liz Claiborne Inc., and Ted Snowdon. Silver sponsors were Suman Chakraborty, Avi Pemper & Mark Rabiner, M.D., and Larry Pidgeon.

Our 2009 Bronze sponsors included Stacey Bridgeman & Marjorie J. Hill, Ph.D., Gregory Brown & Linton Stables, Vincent Carrafiello, Kevin Foley & Stephen Littell, Mr. Ed Neppl & Mr. Scott Mitchell, Bob Smolin, board member Michelle Stecker and partner Carol Bresnahan, the watsons a creativity company, Clay Williams & David Groff, and board co-chair Paula Redd Zeman and her partner, Rev. Deborah G. Tammearu.

Many thanks as well to our media partners, including the Bilerico Project, HHC Marketing, HX, Joe.My.God, Mark Nelson, and Next.