Metro Gala honors Longstreth and others

By : Adam T. McLaughlin
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2ST. PETERSBURG – The replica high school gymnasium dance floor and metal bleachers were filled with what looked like cast members plucked from the set of Grease, as the 4th Annual Metro Wellness Gala kicked off Sept. 10. The Gala was a benefit to raise funding for programs at Metro and to recognize community partners.

Metro was established in 1993 with programs designed to meet the needs of and provide support to the LGBT community. Various programs are offered through Metro for seniors, youth, transgender and the LGBT community as a whole.

Event attendees were dressed for the ‘50s homecoming dance theme; leather jackets, poodle skirts, rolled-up jeans and plain white T-shirts were prevalent throughout the party. The Morean Center for Clay provided the venue for the benefit. The event featured live entertainment, a silent auction, and an awards ceremony to recognize those who have made significant contributions to Metro and the LGBT community. Entertainment included dancers and performances by the Una Voce Men’s Chorale. The group peppered in acapella numbers throughout the night.

The gala culminated with the presentation of leadership awards to honor those who are passionately involved with Metro and the local LGBT community.

Brian Longstreth was this year’s Robert Pope Distinguished Leadership award recipient. His extensive history of service and significant involvement in the community made him a fitting choice for this honor. The list of Longstreth’s contributions date back many years and has continued to build over time. Longstreth is a co-founder of St. Petersburg Pride, owner of Your Neighborhood Realty, owner of the Gay St Pete House and part-owner of Punky’s Bar and Grill. He was also essential in helping to facilitate the purchase this year of the building where the Metro St. Petersburg offices and primary care are located.

“I’m humbled by this,” Longstreth stated after receiving the honor. “I’ve lived here for about 30 years. St. Pete has become much more community-oriented. It’s nice to see the growth of Pride and the gay community, in general. And I think there is room for even more growth.”

Other award recipients were King of Peace Metropolitan Community Church (Spirit of Service Excellence Award) and Dr. Brian Elliott (Dr. John Barnett Service Award). The event is expected to take in approximately $56,000-$60,000. Proceeds from the event will go to support the various programs within the Metro organization.

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