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Wanda Sykes and Michael Urie To Headline Harvey Milk Gala "Spring At Last!"

Friday Mar 18, 2011

New York, NY (March, 2011) - Author, political strategist, civil rights activist and public affairs advisor David Mixner has been named the recipient of this year's Community Service Award to be presented by GAYFEST NYC, Inc. at their Annual Gala, Spring At Last! on Monday, March 21, 2011 at Loews Regency Hotel (540 Park Avenue).  The evening's activities will feature cocktails, hors d'oeuvres, celebrity entertainment and silent & live auctions.

The GAYFEST NYC Community Service Award is presented annually to a courageous, visionary and dedicated individual or organization whose selfless acts of care, sustained commitment and outstanding service have enhanced the quality of life for members of the LGBT community.

Headlining the event will be Wanda Sykes ("The Wanda Sykes Show," "The New Adventures of Old Christine," "Curb Your Enthusiasm") who has been called "one of the funniest stand-up comics" by her peers and ranks among Entertainment Weekly's "25 Funniest People in America." 

She will be joined by actor/producer/director Michael Urie ("Ugly Betty," The Temperamentals, Angels in America), composer/singer Lance Horne (whose debut CD solo recording, "First Things Last," was launched at Lincoln Center and at London's Garrick Theatre), Cortés Alexander (The Tonics, Liza's at the Palace) Justin Bond (Kiki and Herb), Emily McNamara (Host of Musical Mondays at Splash!) and Marty Thomas (Xanadu, Wicked).  The evening's activities will feature cocktails, hors d'oeuvres, celebrity entertainment and silent & live auctions.

GAYFEST NYC, Inc., a 501 (c) (3) not-for-profit corporation, operates year-round and functions as a clearing house for new GLBT and other minority plays and their playwrights who address our lives, our issues and our concerns. Its 2010 Festival production of the musical This One Girl's Story, book by Bil Wright, music & lyrics by Dionne McClain-Freeney, is the recipient of a 2011 GLAAD Media Award nomination for Best Off-Off Broadway production.

GAYFEST NYC, Inc. is committed to sharing its gifts and its dollars with the next generation and does so by supporting the students of the Harvey Milk High School in Manhattan, a fully-accredited, inclusive, voluntary New York City public high school focusing on the educational needs of students who are in crisis or at risk of physical violence and/or emotional harm in a traditional educational environment.

GAYFEST NYC, Inc. is committed to sharing its gifts and its dollars with the next generation and does so by supporting the students of the Harvey Milk High School in Manhattan.

GAYFEST NYC, Inc. works throughout the year to fund its programs and once each year hosts a major benefit for the school. This event helps to pay for in-school education and mentoring programs at HMHS and contributes to the scholarship fund for the graduates.

The education program, now in its fourth year, provides an accredited playwriting class as part of the school curriculum. GAYFEST NYC, Inc. administers the program and pays two teaching artists throughout the year to facilitate this class. At the end of the second semester each year professional Equity actors (12 this past June) are engaged to read the work developed by the students in class. This is done as an assembly for the entire student body of HMHS.

The mentoring program has several facets. Throughout the year GAYFEST NYC, Inc. arranges and pays expenses for business and industry leaders (doctors, lawyers, authors, bankers, etc.) to speak to the students as part of the school's assembly program, providing guidance and inspiration to the students and serving to educate them to the fact that one can be extremely successful and productive as a member of the LGBT community.

Many students, because of environment and familial attitudes, do not believe this is possible. The GAYFEST NYC, Inc. team also serves as mentors themselves by encouraging the students, with full support of the school administration, to participate as interns in its various theatrical projects and productions, for which the students receive school credit.

The scholarship program was established in May 2007. Since that time GAYFEST NYC, Inc. has awarded 29 scholarships to graduates of the Harvey Milk High School. A full list of recipients is available online at www.GAYFESTNYC.com .

Sponsors/Underwriters for the GAYFEST NYC Gala include Loews Regency Hotel ("Value is the new luxury. Fortunately we deliver both."), Grey Goose Vodka, Trinchero Family Estates/Ménage à Trois Wines, Starbright Floral Design, and DG Neary Realty Ltd.  Media Sponsors include Connextions Magazine, Next Magazine, TheaterMania.com, Edge Publications, Mark Nelson Events, Up & Out, and FunMaps. Event Chairs are trustees Jamie T. Ranieri and George Thomas Wilson.

Tickets are $150 and are available at www.GAYFESTNYC.com or at TheaterMania.com by calling 212-352-3101.

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