The Adventure Continues

TT in the Blue Mountains and Sheldy in New York.

Culture Shock.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Angels at Our Table

I was invited to attend the annual benefit dinner for the Ali Forney Center by board member Neil Koenigsberg who asked me to join his table. Ali Forney (pronounced Ah-LEE For-NAY) was a flamboyantly gay black homeless youth rejected by his family who was forced to sleep on the streets and was murdered with a shot in the head on 135th Street. His friend Carl Siciliano (pictured) began the centre 10 years ago to give destitute and homeless LGBT youth a shelter and community where they are loved and affirmed for who they are and where they can find the strength to restore their lives.
The centre has fed, clothed and housed thousands of youths, provided medical care and mental health treatment, helped thousands of kids to get into schools and find jobs. But so many more kids need their help than they can provide for, so tonight 400 of us at CAPITALE did what we could to help.
This building at 130 Bowery used to be a bank.
And this is how it looked tonight.
When I first arrived I didn't know a soul in the room and there was no sign of my host so I was very intimidated surrounded by Le Tout Rich Gay Buff Big Apple and feeling like Gomer Pyle Goes To Town. Fortunately, a six foot four drag queen named Doris Dear of the Imperial Court of New York and Executive producer of the legendary "Night of a Thousand Gowns" descended upon me, took me under her voluminous wing and kept me chatting until we were called to the dinner table.
Doris turned out to be Ray DeForest, ex-original Broadway cast hoofer in 42nd STREET and leading man in the Las Vegas spectacular JUBILEE! before turning his hand to writing and directing his own tv shows in California. You never know who is under those beehives.
I was seated next to the lovely Rick Stockwell who (small world department) appeared in the musical CABARET with my mum years ago when she lived in L.A. Rick is now a successful photographer in New York and lives in the same building as my new friends Jim Brochu and Steve Schalchlin. I'm beginning to think everyone in New York lives in the same building.

The evening was compered by MSNBC news anchor Thomas Roberts. He married Patrick Abner, his partner of 12 years, last month. Honours were bestowed upon David Mixner, a leader in American politics and human rights for over 40 years and once named by Newsweek as the most powerful gay man in America; Chris Salgardo, president of skincare line Kiehl's who have raised more than $2 million for HIV/AIDS organisations; Time Warner Cable who have donated a learning lab to the Ali Forney Centre, the first ever given to an LGBT organisation, to equip homeless youth with internet skills; and Chris Bilal, an inspiring young man who came to the centre in 2009 after sleeping on rooftops to avoid police harrassment and an abusive boyfriend and now helps build leadership amongst communities affected by police violence. All the speeches were deeply moving and rousing and I know everyone was digging deep to help this extraordinary cause.

Movie star Ally Sheedy is an Honorary Board member. She knows tt from when he assisted Tovah Feldshuh and she also saw PRISCILLA so we like her.
The evening was brought to a splendid end with a performance by string quartet WELL STRUNG
Who were not only clever and handsome but
they sang while they plucked! BRAVO to everyone involved for a wonderful night.

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