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Who are Palm Springs Pride's 2013 honorees?

PALM SPRINGS, Calif. -- Greater Palm Springs Pride will bestow its annual Pride Honors on a photographer, human rights activists, an author, community leaders, outstanding volunteers and an organization that has advocated full equality for forty years. The prestigious Pride Honors Awards are presented annually to individuals in order to recognize the work they have put into raising awareness and furthering the causes of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals and their allies.

The awards will be presented at a ceremony on Oct. 5, at the Hyatt Palm Springs.

Lifetime Achievement Awards will be presented to celebrated writer, photographer and activist Tom Bianchi, internationally acclaimed author Katherine V. Forrest, and Ginny Foat, recognizing her long commitment to social justice, LGBT, and women’s rights activism. Lambda Legal is the 2013 Advocate of the Year celebrating forty years as the nation’s first legal organization dedicated to achieving full equality for lesbian and gay people. Comedian Shann Carr, along with designer Christopher Kennedy, will be recognized with Spirit of Stonewall Community Service Awards.

Michael Green and Stephen Boyd will be honored as Volunteers of the Year, and Lucy Debardelaben and Gail Christian will be recognized with the Spirit of Pride Award for advancing equality, promoting diversity and celebrating the strength and talent of the LGBT community. The 2013 Friend of Pride Award will be presented to local PFLAG Co-Presidents Carol and Mike Balasa. Filmmakers Katy and Sam Wilkerson will be the 2013 Spirit of Stonewall Special Guest recognizing their work telling a story of Pride in their documentary, “The Pride of Palm Springs.”

Spirit of Stonewall Lifetime Achievement Award

The Spirit of Stonewall Lifetime Achievement Award is presented to recognize an individual whose lifetime body of work has left a lasting major imprint on the LGBT community. The 2013 recipients are Tom Bianchi, Katherine V. Forrest, and Ginny Foat.

Tom Bianchi is a celebrated photographer known for recording life around him and capturing unbridled lust, life and the beauty of man. Sexuality has been a consistent theme in Bianchi’s work since Out of the Studio was published in 1991. Twenty books later, Bianchi’s once “pornographic” images have transformed what’s acceptable in homoerotic photography. When Bianchi first attempted to get his Fire Island book published, in the late ‘70s, he was told the book was “too queer” and it wouldn’t have a chance to recoup production costs. Today, Bianchi is one of the most published visual artists and writers in the world.

Bianchi, who is HIV positive, has been active in several projects devoted to the fight against AIDS. He is the cofounder of a biotech company and manages the funding for the development of new AIDS medication.

His “On The Couch” series, “Deep Sex” and “Erotic Triggers” deal with the expression of conscious sexual energy. This body of work has earned Tom respect as one of the most important artists dealing with erotic imagery and imagination. His body of work is the largest record ever made by a single artist of a culture's intimate life.

Three documentary films about Bianchi’s work have been distributed and his work has been published in more than thirty anthologies on the male nude.

Internationally acclaimed author, Katherine V. Forrest, is known for her nine novels in the celebrated Kate Delafield mystery series and for sixteen internationally published works of fiction including the lesbian classics “Curious Wine” and “Daughters of a Coral Dawn.”

Editor of numerous anthologies, she was supervising editor at the legendary Naiad Press for ten years, is currently supervising editor at Spinsters Ink and editor at large at Bella Books, and has worked with LGBT authors for nearly three decades. Her articles and reviews have appeared in numerous books and periodicals and she has taught many classes and seminars on the craft of writing, most recently at Stanford University. She is president emeritus of the Lambda Literary Foundation.

Forrest has been recognized with numerous awards including four Lambda Literary Awards, the Publishing Triangle's Bill Whitehead Lifetime Achievement Award, the Golden Crown Literary Society’s Trailblazer Award, and the Lambda Literary Foundation's Pioneer Award.

It has been nearly 40 years since Ginny Foat attended her first National Organization for Women meeting. What followed was a lifetime commitment working to advance human rights, LGBT rights, women’s rights and social justice and equality for all.

Her career includes serving in senior leadership positions for a number of organizations including: Legal Advocates for Women, Caring for Children and Families with AIDS, California National Organization for Women, American Task Force on Homelessness and YWCA of the USA. She was on the organizing committee for two National Women’s Right to Choose March demonstrations in Washington, D.C., and two March on Washington events for national LGBT civil rights.

She has also chaired and worked on many boards and commissions including co-chair, Los Angeles County HIV/AIDS Commission, Los Angeles County HIV/AIDS Housing Task Force; Child Welfare League, National Task Force on Children and Families and National Board of Directors, Federal Conference on Women Health and HIV. Current community involvement includes serving as secretary of the Coachella Valley Regional Housing Trust; Vice Chair Coachella Valley Association of Governments (CVAG) Homelessness Committee, member CVAG; Riverside County Transportation Committee; Regional Board, League of California Cities and Board of Directors of the Friends of the Palm Springs Animal Shelter. Ginny is also credited with a leadership role in the creation of Roy’s Homeless Resource Center, development of Palm Springs Neighborhood Organizations and the new Palm Springs Animal Shelter.

Spirit of Stonewall Advocate of the Year Award

The Spirit of Stonewall Advocate of the Year Award acknowledges outstanding persons, organizations, events, or businesses working to make a difference in the community through advocacy or service. Lambda Legal is the 2013 Spirit of Stonewall Advocate of the Year recognized by Palm Springs Pride as the nation’s oldest and largest legal organization working for the civil rights of lesbians, gay men and people with HIV/AIDS.

Throughout the 1970s, Lambda Legal fought and won some of the nation's first cases on behalf of lesbian and gay parents and same-sex couples. In 1983, Lambda Legal won the nation’s first HIV/AIDS discrimination case (People v. West 12 Tenants Corp.), helping establish that under disability laws it's illegal to discriminate against people who have HIV. In the 1990s Lambda Legal won a historic legal precedent holding schools responsible for harassment and violence against LGBTQ students (Nabozny v. Podlesny) and successfully defended the right of gay-straight alliances to exist in schools (Colín v. Orange Unified School District). Lambda Legal helped convince state courts to strike down sodomy laws in New York, Kentucky, Tennessee, Montana and Georgia. In 2003, in the historic case Lawrence v. Texas, Lambda Legal persuaded the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn all remaining state sodomy laws. The work continues in 2013. Early in the year, Lambda Legal secured a victory for its client Alec Esquivel, a transgender man, when the State of Oregon agreed to change its employee health care policy to remove all language that denies coverage to transgender people for transition-related health care. Lambda Legal joined LGBT rights organizations in submitting friend-of-the-court briefs to the U.S. Supreme Court in United States v. Windsor and Hollingsworth v. Perry, the DOMA and California Proposition 8 challenges respectively that resulted in the recent rulings declaring Section 3 of DOMA unconstitutional and affirming a lower court ruling finding Proposition 8 unconstitutional as well.

Spirit Of Pride Award

The Spirit of Pride Award is presented to individuals who enhance the quality of life in the region by raising awareness to advance equality, promote diversity or celebrate the strength or talent of the LGBT community. The 2013 Spirit of Pride Award honorees are Lucy Debardelaben and Gail Christian.

If music provides inspiration, Lucy Debardelaben and Gail Christian have been inspiring the LGBT community through music for ten years as promoters of the Palm Springs Women’s Jazz Festival. The festivals celebrate the musical history and contributions that women have played in jazz. In 2013, more than thirty women musicians performed in front of sold out audiences, attracting jazz fans from as far away as Montreal.

Returning in 2014 with eight concerts and dozens of world-class female musicians, the Woman’s Jazz Festival will be a showcase of diversity and talent for jazz enthusiasts from around the world gathered in Palm Springs for the Dinah Shore weekend.

Before coming to Palm Springs Lucy and Gail lived in Washington, DC where, in addition to their professional lives, they produced and hosted a music show at the local jazz station. Lucy is an accountant, and Gail is a former television news correspondent.

Spirit of Stonewall Community Service Award

The Spirit of Stonewall Community Service Award recognizes individuals, a couple or organization within the LGBT community that has made a noticeable and positive impact on the community. The 2013 Spirit of Stonewall Community Service Award is presented to Shann Carr and Christopher Kennedy.

Shann Carr is recognized nationally as a headlining comedian and locally as someone always willing to take in strays, both doggie and human versions. A fostering advocate, her own boy-dog, Becky was a foster pet gone permanent. She has been active in helping the Palm Springs Animal shelter launch the new "Lend A Paw" program. Serving as a high school mentor for the Arts District program at Palm Springs high school she feels she received at least as much out of the experience as her mentee did.

Throughout her 30-year comedy career Carr has written, produced and performed exclusively gay comedy and has been guided along the way by her personal commitment to devote a significant amount of her time to charity and nonprofit performances.

For every year since its inception Shann has volunteered in some capacity with Cinema Diverse including last year as an associate programmer watching nearly one hundred film submissions on the spandex screen stretched over her pool with friends. Her service in the community this year includes the host Committee for Desert Aids Projects Midsummer Dance Party and supporting The American Cancer Society's first LGBT Dance Relay for Life.

Entrepreneur and luxury brand designer Christopher Kennedy not only draws inspiration from Palm Springs for his design projects and product lines, he is inspired to help others. His product lines have raised funds for charities and causes including Desert AIDS Project, AIDS Assistance Program, Equality California, Friends of the Palm Springs Animal Shelter, Saving All Pets, and Sober in the Sun. Christopher volunteers with the Palm Springs Chapter of the American Society of Interior Designers raising scholarship funds for Palm Springs area students. He also volunteers with the Professional Advisory Council for Drury University where he lends his experience, knowledge, and insight to programs dedicated to helping students understand, identify, and map out their choices for successful career paths.

A member of the Architectural & Design Council of the Palm Springs Museum, Christopher also lends his award-winning products and services to benefit children and students by including his design projects on home tours including the Children’s Discovery Museum Home Tour and The Marrakesh Designer Show Case. Christopher also works with the local chapter of Mended Hearts, a national nonprofit organization offering the gift of hope and encouragement to heart patients and their families and caregivers. By providing continuing donations of fabrics for quilting, Christopher Kennedy uses his connections in the design world to support the organization's efforts to raise money through quilt sales.

Spirit of Stonewall Volunteer of the Year Award

The Spirit of Stonewall Volunteer of the Year Award recognizes individuals for outstanding contributions to the betterment of our community through their volunteer efforts. The 2013 Volunteers of the Year are Michael Green and Stephen Boyd.

Stephen Boyd and his partner, Michael Green, retired from corporate life in 2000 and moved to the Coachella Valley and together they own and operate the Triangle Inn Palm Springs, a small historic mid-century boutique hotel. Self admitted workaholics, Stephen and Michael have been together for nearly thirty years and married in 2008, both are active in design, advertising and marketing and they are passionately committed to volunteering in the community.

As a lover of animals, Stephen Boyd volunteers and provides charitable support to a number of Animal Welfare Organizations throughout the valley. He has served on the Board of Friends of the Palm Springs Animal Shelter for the past 8 years, and currently serves as Vice President of that organization, which now manages the Palm Springs Animal Shelter. Stephen volunteers his design and photography services in support of animal causes and other local charities. He loves all animals, but admits that he really is a cat person.

Michael Green is an active volunteer in the local tourism industry; serving as President of the Desert Gay Tourism Guild, as past president and current board member of the Palm Springs Hospitality Association, as a past board member of Mainstreet, as a past member of the Greater Palm Springs Convention and Visitors’ Bureau’s Hospitality and Business Council, and as a current member of the Palm Springs Bureau of Tourism’s Planning, Budget and Joint Advisory Committee (executive, budget and marketing committees).

Michael’s civic involvement includes having served as a member of the Palm Springs General Plan Steering Committee, serving on the interview panel for the Palm Springs Library, serving as a committee member of Move that Jail - the citizens group opposing the Whitewater Jail facility, Desert Business Association membership and membership in his local neighborhood association. Michael also worked to develop and implement the Palm Springs’ Bureau of Tourism’s Resident Expert Program, and the Desert Gay Tourism Guild’s annual Summer Splash promotion.

Friend of Pride Award

The Friend of Pride Award recognizes an individual or couple, who does not identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender, but who has energetically supported the LGBT community over an extended period of years and/or has made an exceptional contribution in the past year. The 2013 Friend of Pride Award is presented to Carol and Mike Balasa.

LGBT civil rights activists for the last twenty years, Carol and Mike Balasa have been involved with Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PGLAG) since just after their daughter came out to them in 1992. They have marched in Pride parades, participated in a PFLAG Speakers Bureau, helped start several PFLAG chapters, lobbied political leaders, organized protests in support of same-sex marriage, and they were charter members of the first LGBT Parent Teacher Association.

Carol and Mike served as charter members of the Palm Springs Police LGBT Outreach Committee until the spring of 2013, and for the last ten years they have served as co-presidents of the Palm Springs/Desert Communities PFLAG chapter. A key focus of their attention over the years has been a passion to bring diversity training to the local schools. With their leadership, PFLAG remains committed to supporting Gay-Straight Alliances in Coachella Valley high schools and some middle schools. Our community is fortunate to have the Balasa’s always at the ready to continue the struggle and to help parents and friends who are committed to make this a safe and fair world for our children.

Special Guest Award

The Special Guest Award is bestowed on individuals who have enriched our lives through activism, inspiration, philanthropy or arts and culture. Mother and son team, Katy Wilkerson and Sam Wilkerson are recognized as the 2013 Spirit of Stonewall Special Guest for their work making a documentary short detailing the Palm Springs High School Spirit of the Sands bands’ participation in the Palm Springs Pride Parade. The 23-minute film documentary, “Pride of Palm Springs” is about inclusion, equality, commitment and a community’s emotional appreciation.

Pride Honors Awards

The prestigious Palm Springs Pride Honors Awards are presented annually to individuals to honor the work they have put into furthering the causes of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals and their allies. The awards reception will take place Oct. 5 from 6-7:30 pm at the Hyatt Palm Springs located at 285 N. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs.

Tickets are available online HERE.

Proceeds from the reception will go to the Pride LGBT Landmark Monument Fund to establish a Wall of Honor landmark monument to honor and remember important local LGBT community members.

View images of the honorees HERE.

This year's Greater Palm Springs Pride celebration is scheduled for Nov. 1-3. More information is HERE.