We are pleased to honor the amazing work of the following individuals, businesses, and organizations:
Rising Star Award
Given to a person or organization that has begun to demonstrate promising service to the LGBTQ community.
Ellis Medicine is a 438-bed community and teaching healthcare system serving New York’s Capital Region. With four campuses – Ellis Hospital, McClellan Street Health Center, Bellevue Woman’s Center and Medical Center of Clifton Park – five additional service locations, more than 3,300 employees and more than 700 members of our medical staff, Ellis Medicine is proud to provide a lifetime of care for patients. Ellis offers an extensive array of inpatient and outpatient services – including cardiac, cancer, emergency, neuroscience primary care and women’s services.
Peter Drago Leadership in Government Award
Given to a person in government who has demonstrated outstanding support of the LGBTQ community.
Councilman Judd Krasher is serving his first term on the City of Albany Common Council. On the Council, Judd has been a tenacious fighter for social justice, government transparency, and greater citizen engagement.
Not shy to shake the boat, Judd has already shown himself to be a advocate for the LGBTQ community. He drew greater attention to conversion therapy after introducing legislation to ban the practice, he authored legislation officially recognizing the Transgender Day of Remembrance in the City of Albany. In the wake of the massacre in Orlando, Judd championed a resolution demanding the FDA lift their blood ban on gay men and trans women.
In his speech at the vigil for the victims of Orlando, Judd gave a moving reminder that “each of us are heroes” for continuing to join together and fight against hate and inequity whenever they rear their heads.
Community Service Award
Given to a person or organization that has demonstrated outstanding community service within the LGBTQ community.
Rosy Sunshine Galván is a social justice advocate, feminist painter and public health champion from the pre-gentrified Lower East Side of Manhattan. Landing in Albany to attend the School of Social Welfare, Rosy Sunshine went on to do community work in New Orleans, Salt Lake City, Mexico City, and back in Albany several years ago. Regardless of where she lands, Rosy fights for LGBTQ liberation, the right to health and the right to live authentically. She currently works at the NYS Department of Health AIDS Institute, assisting organizations in meeting End the Epidemic goals, and in helping them provide high quality HIV services for people incarcerated across the state.
Faisal Alam Young Leaders Award
The Faisal Alam Award, named for Faisal Alam, a queer Muslim activist, who was an active youth advocate, and began the Al-Fatiha Foundation at age 19. This award is given to an individual (ages 24 and under) whose passion, drive, and efforts are making an impact on the LGBTQ community.
Taylor Keith is currently a Junior at SUNY Geneseo with a major in Forensic Anthropology and minors in Political Science and Museum Studies. She is involved in Geneseo Opportunities for Leadership Development (GOLD) program.
Taylor is a Resident Assistance (RA) of Nassau Hall, the arts hall on campus. Dedicated to Community Service, Taylor has been an active planner, speaker and protestor for all of the BlackLivesMatters demonstrations on campus.
She has also been an active participant in the conversation on bringing more diversity to campus with faculty and staff. She has become a repeat guest of the Presidents Commission on Diversity. In her first year Taylor joined SUNY Geneseo Pride Alliance and continued to stay on the Pride E-board serving as VP in her last year. Starting her Junior year, Taylor left the Pride E-board and Joined a group called Students Against Social Injustice (S.A.S.I.), In order for her to work on larger projects to better help all students that face injustice.
Through Pride she has worked on creating more safe spaces for LGBTQ students, staff and faculty. She is now working with other Pride E-board members on updating the New Faculty Orientation to have sensitivity training on not only LGBTQ students’ issues but also Students of Color issues. Outside of campus she is a published author and is actively engaged in NYS Future Problem Solvers.
Last summer, Taylor returned to the Pride Center as the Summer Intern for the center, where she previously worked as a Center Youth Action Team member while she was in high school. Over the summer she helped plan and run Youth In Power Leadership Camp.
Paul Postiglione Youth Services Award
Given to a person who has worked to improve the lives of LGBTQ youth.
AC Reilly is a transplant from the Midwest, an ordained minister serving in the Presbyterian Church, and deeply skeptical of Snapchat. The reason Reilly has continued facilitating youth groups with the Pride Center since September 2014, is that she never had access to such safe and supportive programing when she was a young queer. Reilly is engaged to Nikki and they live with their cat, dog, and chickens in Troy.
Libby Post Council Leadership Award
Given to a former Pride Center board member who defined leadership.
Jeff Baltes spent his whole career in education, with the last 16 years as Superintendent of Schools. He is a native of the Buffalo area and moved to the Capital district in 1985. He was a long-time member of the Center’s Development Committee and co-chaired the group for two years. Jeff was Vice-President of the Board of Directors during Ken Mortensen’s presidency and held the same post for a year during current President Pat Wood’s leadership. He currently is a co-facilitator of a Gay Men’s Discussion Group in the mid-Hudson Valley, an active volunteer with St. Peter’s Health Partners, an educational consultant with Questar III BOCES, and Deputy Director of Death With Dignity-Albany.
Organization of the Year
Given to an organization for its outstanding support of the LGBTQ Community.
In light of the frequent instances of local and national police violence, rampant abuses in the criminal justice system, astronomical disparities in treatment of Capital District school children based on race, we have founded the Upstate New York Black Lives Matter chapter of the national Black Lives Matter network.
“Our very existence is under attack and we will no longer participate in the status quo. Through the steadfast efforts of various local activists and community organizers in the Capital District and surrounding areas the Black Lives Matter network has found its way to Upstate NY,” said Amani Olugbala, co-founder of Black Lives Matter Upstate NY
Sylvia Rivera Award
The Sylvia Rivera Award, named for civil rights pioneer Sylvia Rivera, who was a veteran of the Stonewall uprising, and a tireless advocate for transgender rights. This award is given to an individual or organization that has demonstrated outstanding work helping the LGBTQ community.
Eòghann Renfroe is a queer and transgender advocate, semi-lapsed artist, and notable time travel afficianado. He works for gender, racial, and sexual justice through legislative and policy reform, education, and social change. He has co-authored NYS Education Department guidelines for transgender and gender non-conforming students in K-12 schools; worked in coalition to develop trans-affirming policies for the Albany Police Department; organised rallies, vigils, workshops, trainings, and other direct actions and events to raise awareness and otherwise educate on matters of LGBTQ equality both locally and across the state. Eòghann studied at St. Louis Community College in Ferguson, MO and received a Bachelor’s in Fine Art from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, focusing on drawing, printmaking, new media, and building community through the intersection of art and activism. He currently works at Empire Justice Center, a civil legal services organization dedicated to protecting and strengthening the legal rights of low income, disabled, immigrant, LGBTQ, or otherwise disenfranchised New Yorkers.
Marsha P. Johnson Award
The Marsha P. Johnson Award, named for Marsha “Pay No Mind” Johnson, a Stonewall instigator and self-proclaimed “street queen”, who fought for transgender rights. This award is given to an individual who has made outstanding contributions working with marginalized communities.
Kym is a leader in the community. As transgender woman of color who has learned how to tell her story effectively and organize in her community, she has a unique position to pass that along to other women in the community and she does. She runs a support group for trans women of color, appears publicly and leads in events like the Transgender Day of Remembrance, which is a celebration of trans lives, occurring yearly in November.
Kym is a style leader and passes her knowledge along to others exploring that professional path. In the support group she co-founded with a local advocacy organization Kym is able to share her experience, strength, and hope to inspire others. Her STYLE program (Self Turn around in Your Living Environment), she helps to inspire. Similarly, she is a known public figure and always committed to being a public speaker on important issues for women and in particular, trans women of color, a severely marginalized, polarized demographic, as well as a community group targeted for violence and blow back around gains being made in areas of racial, gender, and LGBTQ civil rights. Trans women of color live at those margins, and continue to be marginalized, but often receive the retaliation for civil rights successes.
She is a perpetual advocate for society’s most vulnerable, providing a strong yoke to the voiceless and ignored in society. As an Albany native, she began her service to community early, working while a teenager with the 4H Summer Camp and the Arbor Hill Community Center. Kym currently works with various groups and agencies to talk about what it means to be transgender and the distinct issues the trans community faces. She was the first trans woman honored by the City of Albany during Black History Month for her leadership in Albany and around the State.
Harvey Milk Award
Given to a person in the community whose work emulates the ideals of Harvey Milk.
The Empress of Schenectady, New York, Champagne was born Robert B. Quinney, Jr. during a horrific snowstorm in Cobleskill, NY. He is a graduate of South Colonie High School. His first drag performance was at Club 145 in Schenectady and there was no turning back when they said “And the winner is Champagne”. From that performance, Champagne began her reign to many local and regional titles, including Miss Black Velvet, Miss Tri-City, Miss Rage, Miss Club Cabaret, Miss Clinton St Pub, Miss Two Lipps, Miss Phoenix, Miss Gay Pride and the Empress of Schenectady.
At an early age Rob used his talents as Champagne to bring gay rights issues to the forefront of the community. Whenever people told him that something could not be done, it motivated him to do it that much better and over the top. A little drama and of course attention, went a long way to raise thousands of dollars during numerous charity benefit shows for Farano House, Northeast AIDS Council, Brothers Keeper, Damian Center, Whitney M. Young, Schenectady Pride and Albany Pride just to name a few. Champagne produced and directed 13 Snowball Benefit’s that raised over 100 thousand dollars for children and families infected and affected by HIV and AIDS.
Champagne was a board member of Schenectady Pride for five years, with this past year being co-chair alongside his husband Tom Dannible. The 2016 Schenectady Pride show become a benefit for the Orlando Pulse nightclub victims, which raised $2.500 during the event. On the same day, Champagne did an evening benefit for the Orlando victims with fellow performers; proof that Champagne is the hardest working woman in show business. Champagne continues to perform throughout the capital region at nightclubs, for benefits, events and various occasions.
Special Recognition Award
Given in special recognition of service to the community and Pride Center
Peter and Lance opened ROCKS nearly 10 years ago as a place everyone could go to have fun and be welcomed into a safe and comfortable venue. Over the last 10 years it has been much more than a bar for the many people it has touched. It has provided a safe haven for those that are discriminated against. It has provided a creative outlet for the brilliant minds in the community. It has provided a warm and comforting place for those that do not have one during the holidays. And as this past year has provided a meeting place for people to express fear, sadness, helplessness, sanctuary and even joy in a world that can still express violence to our community. Many people have stated that there may no longer be a need for a segregated bar for the LGBT community in this day and age. I for one, am glad ROCKS has been a central community fixture in both the good times (Pride Festivities, NY Marriage Equality passing, Federal Marriage Equality, just to name a few.) and in bad (The destruction of the Albany Damien Center by fire, The Pulse Nightclub tragedy, the desecration of the Damien Center Flag, and more). Thank you to all in the community from those that never thought it would work, to those that have supported us every step of the way.
2016 Pride Center Gala Host
Chrissy Cavotta has been waking up the Capital Region for 10 years as co-host of The Fly Morning Rush on FLY 92.3. Chrissy started her 23 year radio career in The Hamptons and has worked in West Palm Beach, Florida, Buffalo, New York, and Portland, Maine. She grew up in Mechanicville, New York and is thrilled to have returned home to continue in radio where her family and childhood friends are. Chrissy currently lives with her girlfriend, Jennifer, and her five year old son, Ryan, who is the center of their universe.
2016 Pride Center Gala Auctioneer
Employing his special gift for communication — and some shameless prodding – LeGrande has raised $19 million as an auctioneer at more than 1,200 charity auctions in the Albany area.
Since selling The Reel Seafood Co., LeGrande has expanded his philanthropic efforts. In addition to his many auctioneering gigs, he speaks to the community and professional groups about the critical role that independent businesses play in building a sustainable community.