Equality Florida Institute will present The Youth Voice for Equality Award to cosmetics entrepreneur, Zach Dishinger, at the organization’s 17th Annual Equality Florida Broward Gala on Saturday, November 9th at Westin Fort Lauderdale Beach in Fort Lauderdale. The “must attend” event celebrates and supports the work of Equality Florida Institute, the state’s largest LGBTQ civil rights organization.
“Zach has stood up, spoken out, and devoted himself to increasing public understanding of LGBTQ issues, moving us forward towards full equality,” said Row Iliescu, Equality Florida’s South Florida Development Director.
“I’m honored to receive Equality Florida’s Youth Voice for Equality Award,” said Zach. “I believe I am part of a cultural revolution spearheaded by young people who believe in fighting for what’s right. In partnership with Equality Florida and their life-saving work, we can all truly make a difference in the fight for LGBTQ civil rights.”
Broward resident Zach Dishinger, now 17, has been out and proud for years. Raised in the theater, Zach developed a love of makeup and enjoyed the transformational process of applying it. He recently tweeted, “When I put on makeup, being bullied for being gay, and judged for my unconventional interests, doesn’t matter anymore.” Zach was only 15 when he channeled his passion and launched Formula Z Cosmetics. “Makeup can be an empowering form of self-expression for everyone, regardless of age, gender, sexual orientation or race,” said Zach. “My wish is to show people that it’s okay to be themselves—and that individuality is not only powerful but empowering.” Last year, Formula Z Cosmetics launched Mission Z, part of its Forever Lips collection. 50% of net proceeds from the sale of Mission Z are donated to The Trevor Project, which works to help reduce LGBTQ youth suicide.
Zach and Formula Z have been featured in Forbes, Out Magazine, and on the Today Show. His products are now sold by the iconic retailer, Bloomingdale’s and New York City’s The Phluid Project. Despite rising fame and frequent red carpets walks, Zach remains grounded and focused on his education. Even at school, he finds time to give back. Now a senior at American Heritage High in Plantation, Florida, Zach is President of the school’s Gay-Straight Alliance Club, where students have a safe space to be themselves.
“Zach takes everything he’s got, and he finds a way to use it to help others, whether it be as a role-model and spokesperson, a fundraiser, or a mentor,” said De Palazzo, Equality Florida’s Director of Safe and Healthy Schools. “Equality Florida wants to shine a spotlight on this remarkable young man, who is such an inspiration for our youth.”
The evening will be emceed by NBC 6 newscaster, Roxanne (Roxy) Vargas, who has received multiple awards from the LGBTQ community for her outspokenness on equality issues. A highlight of the gala will be the annual State of the State address by Equality Florida’s co-founder and CEO, Nadine Smith. Sumptuous culinary delicacies, delicious cocktails, musical entertainment by jazz artist Ashley Pezzotti and dancing with DJ Karin Ward, the PNC photo booth, and a live auction featuring a fabulous 14-day China River cruise offered by Whisper Travel and a specially commissioned painting by Susan Clifton, as well as a silent auction, ensure a truly memorable and fun evening for all.
The annual fixture, presented by PNC Bank for the sixth consecutive year, attracts more than 500 community, business, political and student leaders. The Gala takes place on Sunday, November 9th, from 6:30-10:00 pm in The Las Olas Ballroom at The Westin Fort Lauderdale Beach, 321 Fort Lauderdale Beach Blvd. For sponsorship and volunteer opportunities, contact Row Iliescu at email@example.com or 305-335-2102. Tickets are $175, $200 at the door, and available at: equalityflorida.org/browardgala.