This past Sunday in New York City, Dan Savage and husband Terry threw a holiday party sponsored by the It Gets Better Project benefiting the Ali Forney Center, whose drop-in center for LGBTQ youth was destroyed by Hurricane Sandy.
The Ali Forney Center offers shelter, job placement help, counseling and testing for homeless LGBTQ youth. Located in Chelsea right next to the Hudson River, Hurricane Sandy totally fucked their shelter. Sure, I’ve been called names and experienced some judgment surrounding my sexuality, but overall I have family and friends who love and accept me. There are kids who come out to their parent and are disowned and kicked out of their house, thrown to the streets to survive. Such LGBTQ youth make me feel like a huge pussy for having my feelings hurt when people say things like “You’re not bi, you’re just a slut.” These kids are some brave motherfuckers and they need our help, which was exactly what Dan and Terry were hoping to accomplish with the A Better Holiday Benefit.
At XL Nightclub, one of New York’s sexiest new gay clubs, the event kicked off at 7PM with a cocktail reception featuring art by photographer Victor Haim and a silent auction. Then the party really started. The concert was hosted by the Haus of Mimosa, aka the fabulous pair Travis Barr as Miss Anita M. Buffem and Steven Incammicia as Gina Marie Rittale. (You should have seen their ridiculous Christmas costumes; I apologize for the shitty iPhone photos.) I sort of wish I had known about the two drink minimum before I had a few during the cocktail reception, but whatever, it’s for a good cause! Hangovers at work are totally acceptable if earned by helping people.
Dan Savage is my hero. Not only has he been a major influence in my writing, but he’s taught me how to be “monogamish” without being an asshole, that sometimes you need to act like a sassy bitch and stand up for yourself, not to mention the countless odd fetishes I’ve learned about through his Savage Love column. (Anyone else remember that guy obsessed with jerking it using mud?) Anyway, I was super excited to spend a night around Dan, but he wasn’t there! Shortly after the Haus of Mimosa’s delightful rendition of TLC’s “Waterfalls” Dan’s face appeared on a projection screen and my first thought was “Dan, you fucking princess, not showing up to your own party.” Then I remembered that he has a husband and 15-year-old son based in Seattle and I’m sure he just needed some time at home with his family, he must travel all the time for work. It’s really important for parents to be around for their teenagers, so props to Dan for being a good dad.
The list of performers reads longer than the notches on my college bedpost so I’ll just give you the highlights. By far Christina DeCicco of Broadway’s revival Evita stole the show with her performance of “I Am What I Am,” originally composed by Jerry Herman. Seriously, even the Haus of Mimosa was lost for words. Andy Mientus of Smash was adorable and incredible of course, as was Randy Harrison of Queer as Folk. Perhaps the most inspirational performance of the night came from Ali Stroker of the Glee Project. A bombshell blonde, Ali is paralyzed from the chest down. Joined at the event by her girlfriend Dani Shay, Ali looked hot as shit dressed like a rock star and damn, girl can sing.
The night concluded by Haus of Mimosa performing Cyndi Lauper’s “True Colors” followed by Gaga’s “Edge of Glory” because as they put it, they couldn’t end the night on such an emotional note. We had to leave dancing!
The event was an incredibly fun and happy LGBTQ party – but the sad truth is, especially teens, not everyone that is LGBTQ is living a happy and fun existence. For many it’s pretty hellish, which is exactly why events such as A Better Holiday are so important. They need our help. The good news is thanks to everyone’s donations, the new drop-in center will be open 24/7 and even better than the original. If you missed the event but still want to help the cause, you can donate to Ali Forney Hurricane Sandy relief here.
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Photo credit: Sophie Saint Thomas