Founders’ Ball honors LGBTQ activists
by Jess Berry
Apr 30, 2014 | 552 views | 0 0 comments | 12 12 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Edie Windsor and Stormé DeLarverie
Edie Windsor and Stormé DeLarverie
slideshow
Edie Windsor and Public Advocate Letitia James
Edie Windsor and Public Advocate Letitia James
slideshow
The Brooklyn Community Pride Center (BCPC) honored LGBTQ activists and legends Edie Windsor and Stormé DeLarverie at their annual Founders’ Ball last Thursday at the DUMBO loft.

The event celebrated the sixth anniversary of BCPC, which saw a huge amount of growth over the past six months.

In June, BCPC moved from Atlantic Ave. to a larger office space at 4 Metrotech, increased the amount of programs they were offering and found that by November, they had served more young people over the course of five months than they had for the entire previous year.

The year also marked some huge milestones for the LGBTQ community. The government repealed Don’t Ask Don’t Tell and struck down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), while the transgender community has been given hope through the positive reception of Laverne Cox.

But, as Executive Director Erin Drinkwater expressed in her opening remarks, there is still a lot of progress that needs to be made before equality is a true reality for the entire LGBTQ community.

“People often ask me why in 2014, LGBTQ community centers are necessary,” Drinkwater said. “We've seen unprecedented advancements in legislative equality — we've seen the fall of Don't Ask Don't Tell, yet we live in a state where outside a handful of local jurisdictions it is perfectly legal to fire somebody simply because of who they are.

“We live in a city where on any given night hundreds of young people sleep on subway grates or in other unsafe conditions. We live in a world in which transgender women of color experience discrimination disproportionate to their lesbian, gay and bisexual counterparts and are more likely to be the victim of homicide. Where parents kick their children out of their homes simply because of whom they love. And seniors, who literally paved the way for the strides made towards equality, are forced back into the closet in their retirement.”

As Drinkwater discussed all that still needs to be accomplished, she also honored the work that people like Edie Windsor and Stormé DeLarverie have already done to win rights for the LGBTQ community.

Edie Windsor won a famous case in the Supreme Court in 2013, which helped strike down DOMA. She and Thea Spyer were a same-sex couple residing in New York, and had been legally married in Canada in 2007. When Spyer passed away in 2009, she left her entire estate to Windsor. Windsor, however, was denied the federal estate tax exemption for surviving spouses because DOMA specified that the term “spouse” applied only to heterosexual marriages.

Fighting the IRS, who compelled her to pay $363,053 in estate taxes, Windsor brought her case to the Supreme Court and on June 26, the court ruled a 5-4 decision declaring DOMA to be unconstitutional.

Stormé DeLarverie’s scuffle with the police has been marked as one of the defining moments of the famous Stonewall riots. She also toured as the only drag king of the Jewel Box Revue in the 1950s and 60s.

“I think each and every one of us can relate to the battle of living our lives being subject to inequality and choosing to fight for what is right,” Drinkwater said.

"Although Stormé was not too talkative at the event, the spirit of the evening shone brightly in her eyes,” DeLarverie’s guardian Lisa Cannistraci said. “She knew what was going on and she had the time of her life.”

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