PHOTOS: Equality Florida’s 2019 St. Pete Gala

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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ST. PETERSBURG | Equality Florida welcomed supporters to the Mahaffey Theater on May 11 to celebrate the organization’s annual St. Pete Gala.

The evening began by honoring Linda Lerner with the Voice for Equality Award. Lerner, an advocate for LGBTQ issues in her role on the Pinellas County Schools board, retired in 2018 as its longest-serving member. Fan favorite artist John Gascot then received the Amy S. Mandel Service & Leadership Award for his work with Diversity Arts, his nonprofit which serves disenfranchised, mostly LGBTQ youth.

Later that evening, Professor Nan Hunter and activist David Mixner each received Equality Florida’s first ever Edie Windsor Lifetime Achievement Awards for their dedication to the LGBTQ community. Hunter founded the ACLU LGBT Rights Project and Mixner was once described by Newsweek as “the most powerful gay man in America.”

Equality Florida CEO Nadine Smith also delivered an address. “We love this gala for a variety of reasons,” she shared. “I love it because this is where I live; this is where my wife and I raise our eight year old … I love this because this is the place where Equality Florida was born, in the Tampa Bay area, this is where we are headquartered.”

“This is where the base of support has always been strong for the work that Equality Florida does, so thank you all,” she continued. “Many of you are longtime supporters and I see a lot of allies out there. Most encouragingly, I see a lot of new faces who are stepping into the ring to stand up for equality statewide—and you’ve arrived just in the nick of time.”

Watermark was on hand to help celebrate the festivities, which also included dining, dancing and entertainment from London entertainer Wanda Cookie. Check out some of our photos below.

Photos by Dylan Todd, Ryan Williams-Jent.

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