Perceptions Hosts Seventh Annual LGBT And Ally Pride Awards


The Seventh Annual LGBT and Ally Pride Awards Banquet will be held at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, June 23, at the Andersen Enrichment Center, 120 Ezra Rust Drive in Saginaw. The evening includes a garden reception, dinner and an LGBT awards program emceed by Peter Brian Barry. Individual and corporate sponsorships fund the banquet. The event tickets cost $25 for adults and $15 for students and will be available at the door. Tickets and sponsorships are available at http://www.perceptionsSV.org/pride, by calling 989-891-1429 or by emailing pride@perceptionsSV.org.

Randy Hasso is the recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award. He has generously volunteered and has been involved with gay, transgender and HIV/AIDS communities for more than 30 years. He worked with the NAMES (AIDS) Quilt displays, the first Pride award banquets, attended national gay rights marches in Washington, D.C. and is a long-time member of Perceptions where he currently chairs the "Adopt-a-Highway program."

David Custer and Heather Aviles will be awarded Champion of Pride Awards. Custer is an openly gay news anchor at WNEM-TV-5 who overcame serious high school bullying and has received several Emmy awards. Aviles is the adviser for the Gay/Straight Alliance at Midland High School; directed education of gender and sexuality with teachers, staff and students; organized LGBTQ speakers and displays; and has worked on the visibility of the LGBT community.

Brandon Errer, Cara Mitrano and Jody Liebmann will receive Rising Star Awards. Errer organized the first Lavender Graduation at Saginaw Valley State University in May and is the president of Living Proud, SVSU's LGBTIA (gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, ally) student group. Mitrano is the president and a co-founder of the Gay/Straight Alliance at Midland High School, has created a blog for the SGA and is responsible for many LGBT and ally events at Midland High School. Liebmann has become a public ally who advocates for gay and transgender rights and for victims of sexual assault with Saginaw's Underground Railroad. Her passion and dedicated service to the underprivileged demonstrates her belief in equality for all individuals.

Dan Kildee, 5th District Congressman, has been granted the Political Award. He has been a dedicated LGBT community ally by serving as Vice Chair at the LGBT Equality Caucus, fighting Michigan's discriminatory marriage ban and championing the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. He recently introduced a resolution expressing that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Americans should be protected from discrimination under the law.

Midland's Planet Fitness will received the Business Award. The gym is committed to a non-intimidating and welcoming environment for members with its "Judgement Free Zone." Planet Fitness's gender identity non-discriminating policy is a model for other businesses.

The Pride Awards Banquet is organized by Perceptions, a nonprofit group that provides education, networking and advocacy services for the well-being of LGBT individuals, their allies and the community at large. Find out more by visiting http://www.perceptionsMI.org.
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