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Stonewall Honors Prominent Women Leaders and Unsung Heroes

by Winnie McCroy
EDGE Editor
Wednesday Apr 16, 2014

In a special ceremony on Friday, April 11 at Union Square Ballroom, the Stonewall Community Foundation honored prominent women leaders and unsung heroes who create lasting legacies for the LGBTQ community. This year's honorees included Irma Salvatierra Bajar, Sharon Day, Barbara Hammer, Joan Nestle and Yoruba Richen. More than 200 guests came out to celebrate amazing women in our community.

"Women give generously to Stonewall, they run many of the nonprofits we fund, and they sharpen our vision of a better future," said Stonewall Community Foundation's Executive Director Jarrett Lucas. "Simply put, women are a vital part of this Foundation and our community, and Stonewall Honors is a meaningful reminder of that. We celebrate leaders who bring joy, power, and progress to our movement. It's both our responsibility and our privilege to lift them up."

The honorees were equally excited to be part of the evening's event.

"It's a dream come true to be serving the LGBTSTGNC People of Color community," said honoree Irma Salvatierra Bajar, who works at the Audre Lorde Project as membership program coordinator. "I wake up everyday fueled by the resilience of the people in struggle and am grateful for my kasamas/comrades, community, and ohana for giving me the love and support in Serving the People."

Drawn to issues of overseas Filipino migrants, Bajar was first introduced to the National Democratic movement of the Philippines in Seattle in 2006. She later moved to NYC and joined Filipinas for Rights and Empowerment (FiRE-NYC). She served as FiRE's Organizing Director for two years and is the former Chairperson of the organization.

Currently, Irma serves as the Vice-Chair of International Relations for GABRIELA-USA, an overseas chapter of GABRIELA Philippines, which is an organization working to advance the struggle of women in the overall movement for national liberation and genuine democracy in the Philippines.

Honoree Sharon Day coordinated the Mother Earth Water Walk from Gulf Port Mississippi to Ashland, Wisconsin in 2011. They met with communities along the way to raise awareness about clean water. She has coordinated the first Two Spirit Gathering in Minnesota, which became an annual event, and said that he identity as a lesbian two-spirit Ojibwe woman informs all of her work, art and spirituality.

"We gathered the water from the four oceans and carried it to Lake Superior where we had a water ceremony," said Day. "We co-mingled all the waters and took it out to the lake and poured it into the water. There the waters will make their way back to their ocean homes and confer about what we want them to do. Be healthy, again."

Visual artist Barbara Hammer was honored for her work in film and video, revealed and celebrating marginalized peoples whose stories have not been told. Her cinema is multi-leveled and engages an audience viscerally and intellectually with the goal of activating them to make social change.

Hammer has been honored with four retrospectives in the last three years: The Museum of Modern Art in New York City, Tate Modern in London, Jeu de Paume in Paris, and the Toronto International Film Festival. Her memoirs, "HAMMER! Making Movies Out of Sex and Life," is published by The Feminist Press, City University of New York, and she is currently a Guggenheim Fellow (2013-14) working on a film on Elizabeth Bishop.

Bronx-born Joan Nestle was seminal in the history of social change in New York City. In 1974 she co-founded the Lesbian Herstory Archives, which still thrives today in its Brooklyn home.

"I am most grateful when I am forced to see with new eyes that which I thought I knew," said Nestle, who moved to Melbourne, Australia in 2002 to be with her lover, Dianne Otto.

At 73, She is the author of two memoir collections, "A Restricted Country" and "A Fragile Union" and editor/co-editor of seven other books exploring the lesbian-queer body and imagination.

And Honoree Yoruba Richen is a documentary filmmaker born and raised in New York City. Her latest film "The New Black" premiered at the Los Angeles Film Festival in June and went on to win Audience Awards at AFI Docs and Philly Q Fest and Frameline LGBT Film Festival.

In 2007, Yoruba won a Fulbright award in filmmaking and traveled to Salvador, Brazil, where she began production on "Sisters of the Good Death," a documentary about the oldest African women’s association in the Americas and the annual festival they hold celebrating the end of slavery.

Yoruba has received numerous grants including from ITVS, The Sundance Documentary Fund, Chicken & Egg Pictures, and the Ford Foundation. She won the Creative Promise Award at Tribeca All Access and was also a Sundance producers’ fellow. She is the head of the documentary film program at CUNY Graduate School of Journalism and is a Guggenheim Fellow.

For more information, visit www.stonewallfoundation.org. or like them on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/StonewallCommunityFoundation

Winnie McCroy is the Women on the EDGE Editor, HIV/Health Editor, and Assistant Entertainment Editor for EDGE Media Network, handling all women's news, HIV health stories and theater reviews throughout the U.S. She has contributed to other publications, including The Village Voice, Gay City News, Chelsea Now and The Advocate, and lives in Brooklyn, New York.


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