The National LGBTQ Task Force held its annual gala, presented by Truist, on October 22, 2022, breaking multiple records for the event.
Comedian Sandra Valls emceed this year’s gala, which honored the contributions of gun control and LGBTQ+ advocate X Gonzalez, MSNBC’s Jonathan Capehart, and longtime allies the Gadinsky family.
The theme of the 26th annual gala was “Red, White & You,” emphasizing the National LGBTQ Task Force’s “Queer the Vote” campaign and the community’s work to mobilize progressive-minded voters to participate in this critical midterm election year. Held at the Grand Ballroom, Miami Convention Center, 780 people enjoyed the pre-dinner reception, a silent auction that raised over $140,000 the dinner and after party.
The Gala raised more than $900,000, exceeding the previous record by over $150,000. The fundraising efforts were buoyed by over $500,000 in sponsorships, more than $100,000 in ticket sales and $100,000 raised during the text-to-pledge portion of the evening.
Task Force Executive Director Kierra Johnson acknowledged the many challenges Florida’s LGBTQ+ and other marginalized communities are facing and let attendees know that the Task Force is with them and doing the work in a state that often is a proving ground for anti-LGBTQ legislation and attacks.
“By being here tonight, each one of you is reinvesting back into the local community right here in Miami Dade and Broward counties and supporting our movement on a national scale,” said Johnson.
“As we near what is easily the most important midterm election in my time, we know that democracy is on the ballot. And voter suppression is real. Just this week we saw people arrested and taken away in handcuffs for alleged voter fraud – after being notified by official government entities they were in fact eligible to vote…this cannot stand, and the Task Force knows that far too often those targeted in this way are the most marginalized – LGBTQ+, people of color, immigrants and the economically disenfranchised”.
Johnson mentioned that as the Task Force approaches its 50th anniversary, and pledged to the community to face the tough times ahead.
LGBTQ+ and gun violence prevention activist X Gonzalez was presented with the Changemaker Award, saying:
“Thank you so much to the National LGBTQ Task Force for this Changemaker Award. It means a lot that people recognize the sacrifices and eﬀort that I, along with my coworkers and fellow students, put forward in order to make this country a better place”.
“When people who are supposed to represent you tell you to question your trust in science … they’re doing it to scare you … It’s up to us to tell them the type of world we want to live in once they’re in oﬃce. It’s up to them to pass laws that will protect us from ourselves, for them to fix all the problems that their predecessors left behind. We need to address climate change, or there won’t be a world to ﬁx and protect. … The fearful minority needs to realize that that if they want to stop pedophilia, they don’t need to make it harder for kids to get puberty blockers, they need to make the men in their families go to therapy.”
“All healthcare costs should be footed by the state. If you want to live in a better world, you need to play your part in making it better.”
Gonzalez urged the audience to donate to or volunteer with organizations like National LGBTQ Task Force, Equality Florida, March for Our Lives or other local groups.
MSNBC anchor and Associate Editor of The Washington Post Jonathan Capehart received the National Leadership award and said: “It is not lost on me what I symbolize, America’s slow, inexorable march forward….I am the descendent of slaves, who grew up in the Jim Crow South, my cousins and I the first generation in our family that didn’t have to pick cotton. I was able to marry the man I love….I just interviewed the President of the United States for my MSNBC show. I say this because that is me, that Black gay young man who came out to his mother so many years ago who warned him not to tell anyone. Receiving this year’s National Leadership Award is an incredible honor but please know that I know I did not get here through my own grit and gumption, I am able to do what I do thanks to the tireless fight for equality and justice waged by organizations like the National LGBTQ Task Force.”
The 2022 Eddy McIntyre Community Service Award was presented to LGBTQ+ ally family Liebe, Seth, Naomi, and Natasha (Tashi) Gadinsky. They also received the key to the city in a surprise presentation from the Mayor of Miami. Tashi said: “Naomi and I grew up surrounded by the warmth of a loving chosen family before we even knew what ‘chosen family’ meant. Our childhoods were brightened by giggling over Sunday night Thai food with our ‘guncles’ and snorkeling in the Keys with our ‘lesbiaunts.’ As some of you may know, I am also now a card-carrying member of the LGBTQ family. I’ve never felt happier or more like myself. Thank you to the National LGBTQ Task Force and of course to my Mom and Dad, for fighting for and securing so many rights and freedoms that I now intimately enjoy.”
Through the Gala and the Task Force’s Winter Party Festival, the Task Force has donated over $3.3 Million to vital LGBTQ+ community services in South Florida, in partnership with the LGBTQ Community Fund at the Miami Foundation. This year, a sizable portion of proceeds will go to support the LGBTQ+ Equity Fund.
About The Task Force
The National LGBTQ Task Force advances full freedom, justice, and equality for LGBTQ people. We are building a future where everyone can be free to be their entire selves in every aspect of their lives. Today, despite all the progress we have made to end discrimination, millions of LGBTQ people face barriers in every aspect of their lives: in housing, employment, healthcare, retirement, and basic human rights.