An LGBT community foundation this week announced the honorees for its annual awards ceremony. During its 11th-annual HEROES brunch April 9, DVLF will honor three individuals and two organizations:
Lifetime Legacy Award: Heshie Zinman
Adult HERO Award: Sergio Morales-Garcia
Youth HERO Award: Giana Graves
Nonprofit Organization HERO Award: Philadelphia Gay Men’s Chorus
Business HERO Award: PHL Diversity
Each honoree was nominated by community members, and DVLF’s Outreach & Grantmaking Committee made the final decision with approval from the board of directors.
“[The ceremony is] promoting awareness so the public can see LGBT individuals are an active and thriving part of the Philadelphia community,” said Ron Lucente, DVLF’s board president.
Zinman held several leadership positions for LGBT and HIV/AIDS communities throughout his career. According to a statement, Zinman was the “driving force behind the start up” of ActionAIDS (now Action Wellness), AIDS Fund, DVLF and SafeGuards Gay Men’s Health Project. He served as the AIDS Information Network’s executive director and as the community-relations manager for Dupont Pharmaceuticals Company and Bristol-Myers Squibb Pharmaceutical. His other efforts include co-founding the AIDS Library of Philadelphia and the LGBT Elder Initiative.
Morales-Garcia, once a youth participant at The Attic Youth Center, was later hired to work with the teens and now serves as an HIV tester at GALAEI. According to a statement from DVLF, Morales-Garcia "is a HERO because at GALAEI, he is a leader that makes the impossible possible, but all behind closed doors and out of the spotlight. He is described as warm, compassionate and friendly during his HIV testing sessions.” Additionally, the Adult HERO Award winner organized the LGBT Youth Prom, a community support group for gay Latinx men and the YouTube “talk show” Con SEXO.
Meanwhile, Graves will receive the Youth HERO Award for her efforts to train housing and social-service providers on working with the LGBT youth. Her work began as a youth panelist at The Attic Youth Center’s Bryson Institute where she discussed navigating social-service systems as a queer transgender woman of color. She has since educated more than 500 adults and youth on LGBT issues.
“Time and time again, Giana has put the needs of her community over herself, demanding justice not just for herself but for those who haven’t been given a platform,” DVLF said in a statement.
With more than 120 members, PGMC has grown to become the largest all-male choral group in the region. Members of the Nonprofit Organization HERO Award winner perform songs with a “musical message of hope and inclusion to local gay and straight audiences,” DVLF said. Additionally, the group takes on community initiatives, such as partnering with The Attic in 2014 for a program to improve social acceptance for LGBT youth in schools.
Another organization being honored for its work in the LGBT community is PHL Diversity, a business-development division of the Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau. In the past year, the organization has worked to bring several LGBT organizations to the city, including the National LGBTQ Task Force, Out and Equal, the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association and the National Gay and Lesbian Journalists Association.
“PHL Diversity maximizes opportunities for the region by promoting Philadelphia as an ethnically diverse visitor destination,” DVLF said in a statement. “By encouraging multicultural business and social responsibility, PHL Diversity helps the city’s varying multicultural communities benefit from the hospitality and tourism industries.”
Lucente described HEROES as an “educational opportunity” where people can learn about the contributions of the honorees during their acceptance speeches.
“They speak to why they do what they do, why they felt they needed to do what they do and the needs that are still out there,” Lucente said.
HEROES will be held 12:30 p.m. April 9 at the Hotel Monaco, 433 Chestnut St. Interested attendees can purchase tickets at www.dvlf.org/heroes.