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National LGBT Task Force Gala to Honor Billy Eichner, Robin J. Schwartz and Jasmine McKenzie

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Photo courtesy of National LGBTQ Task Force

The National LGBTQ Task Force will hold the 25th edition of its annual Gala at the Grand Ballroom of the Miami Beach Convention Center on Saturday, October 23. The annual celebration is a time in which the LGBTQ community and its allies gather to fundraise for the important social justice work of the National LGBTQ Task Force. The theme of this year’s Gala is “Imagine…”, celebrating the history, diversity, and beauty of the LGBTQ community while imagining all that is to come.

After a tumultuous and unprecedented year, the Gala is once again being held in-person, in the newly renovated Grand Ballroom at the Miami Beach Convention Center. The evening promises great company, delicious food and drinks, a silent auction, live entertainment, an awards ceremony, and an after-party.

“We’re thrilled that Miami Beach will be the site of the Task Force’s first in-person event since 2020,” said Daniel Marinberg, Gala Chair and a member of the Task Force’s Board of Directors. “The Gala is a wonderful opportunity for the community to unite, and this year it will like a family reunion. Of course, safety is our first priority and we will continue to monitor the nation’s progress related to the pandemic and adhere to the most current guidelines for public events.”

The Gala will honor Billy Eichner, Robin J. Schwartz, and Jasmine McKenzie for their varied and crucial work.

Activist and entertainment icon Billy Eichner will receive the National Leadership Award for his extensive work on visibility and equity. In 2018 Eichner launched “Glam Up the Midterms”, a Get Out the Vote campaign for the midterm elections. He recruited celebrities as well as local leaders and activists from across the country to encourage people to vote in the midterms. He was among six out entertainment professionals chosen to grace the cover of Variety’s inaugural “Power of Pride” issue in June 2019, where he used the platform to shine a light on homophobia in the industry. More recently, Billy was a Senior Advisor to Swing Left, an organization committed to building a lasting culture of grassroots participation in winning elections for the Left, in the lead up to the 2020 Presidential election.

South Florida activist Robin J. Schwartz will receive the 2021 Eddy McIntyre Community Service Award. Schwartz has served the LGBTQ community in multiple capacities over the past 20 years, including six years helming Aqua Foundation for Women. The many causes she has championed include the advancement of LGBTQ women, homeless youth and racial justice.

“I am thrilled that at my first gala as Executive Director we will honor a true community heroine like Robin,” said Kierra Johnson, Task Force Executive Director. “There’s so much to admire about this extraordinary woman, and her work as an outspoken advocate for marginalized communities speaks to the values of the Task Force,” continued Johnson. “We look forward to lifting up her work in ensuring LGBTQ leaders and organizations that work with diverse populations in the queer community have a seat at the table to move us all forward,” she concluded.

Finally, the 2021 ChangeMaker Award will go to Jasmine McKenzie, a Black transgender woman who is dedicated to making sure other Black transgender and nonbinary people have a safe and amazing future and fighting for equity for her community. McKenzie is currently working to build a drop-in center for Black transgender and nonbinary people in South Florida. She is a passionate and active member of the South Florida Ballroom community, and serves as the Mother of the iconic House of Ebony. Jasmine also serves as co-chair for 2021 Trans Pride Fort Lauderdale. McKenzie will be the first to be presented with the new ChangeMaker Award, intended to recognize someone who embodies the Task Force’s vision for a society where LGBTQ+ people are free to be themselves, who works to remove barriers for the LGBTQ+ community, and who commits themselves to transforming society for future generations.

The funds raised at this year’s Gala will support the Task Force’s “All of Me, All the Time” campaign, an effort to educate thought leaders, elected officials and the general public about the need for federal non-discrimination protections. A remarkable number of people do not realize how vulnerable the LGBTQ community, people of color, religious minorities and others are to discrimination in housing, accommodations and other key areas because of the lack of federal protections.

Additional funds will go towards the Task Force’s annual donation to The Miami Foundation’s LGBTQ Community Fund, which provides grants for like-minded community service organizations. Support of the Gala has funded, to date, over 90 local LGBTQ programs in the Miami area.

Proceeding the Gala will be Imagine… After the Gala, an inclusive dance party featuring GRAMMY Award-Winning Producer/DJ Tracy Young. After the Gala is an opportunity to mingle, build connections, and celebrate the LGBTQ community with the LGBTQ community. The after party will feature an open bar, and tickets are included with Gala admission. If you are not attending the Gala but are interested in attending After the Gala, separate tickets are available here.

Maintaining a safe and inclusive environment for attendees is of primary importance to the National LGBTQ Task Force. In this regard, the organization will share all available information about the Gala experience and safety precautions related to COVID-19, accessibility, and public health. All guests will be required to submit proof of vaccination or proof of a negative COVID-19 test (taken within 72 hours of the event), sign a liability waiver prior to check-in and will be temperature checked upon arrival. Tickets for the Gala are $450, and sponsorships range from $2,500 to $50,000. For more information or to purchase tickets or sponsorships, visit thetaskforce.org.

The National LGBTQ Task Force advances full freedom, justice, and equity for LGBTQ people. We are building a future where everyone can be free to be their entire selves in every aspect of their lives. Today, despite all the progress we’ve made to end discrimination, millions of LGBTQ people face barriers in every aspect of their lives: in housing, employment, healthcare, retirement, and basic human rights. For more information go to thetaskforce.org.

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