LGBT Center Honors Wanda Sykes, Chely Wright
LGBT New Yorkers gathered on Chelsea Piers Pier 60 on Nov. 12 for the LGBT Community Center’s 14th annual Center Women’s Event, the largest annual fundraiser for its women’s programs. Comedian Wanda Sykes and country music singer Chely Wright were among those honored.
"The truth is we don’t get enough funding for LGBT women’s programs at the Center," noted Center Executive Director Glennda Testone. "We’ve had some funding cuts in the past year for our Lesbian Cancer Initiative, and it’s really important that young women come out, as women sadly deal with a cancer diagnosis, that we have a place and the programs and services to support them. And that’s what an event like tonight does."
Wright took to the stage to accept her award, and remembered the trepidation she felt about coming out less than a year and a half ago. She recalled standing in front of the Center on West 13th Street, afraid to enter.
"I confided to Glennda that I was about to come out publicly, and I started to understand what community meant, what it meant to be completely known, and it was wonderful," said Wright. "I spent 20 years in Nashville making records, writing songs, and being only halfway in a community. I realized when I started to make real friends in New York City that nobody knew me... and here I was six months in New York City and it felt so good to be known. I began to understand why the Center was important, because the doors were opened and people start to reach out and lock arms and move forward together. And that’s why we’re here tonight."
Cyndi Lauper presented the Celebrity Activist Award to Sykes.
"It really is an honor to be here tonight showing support for the Center, which is an institution I believe very strongly in and makes an enormous difference in the LGBT community," she said. "I didn’t want to appear as some gum-chewing dame from Brooklyn, I wanted to write some stuff down to tell you how much I appreciate her."
Lauper further applauded Sykes.
"I think that no one is more deserving than Wanda," she said. "She’s not only one of the funniest women in the world, she’s also one of the most committed and dedicated people I’ve known. She came forward and taught us, in her way, with humor and with grace and described how unjust these laws really were. I’ve always been proud to know Wanda."