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Stonewall National Museum, Archives and Library’s (SNMAL) Standing on the Shoulders of Heroes Gala takes place at The Venue Fort Lauderdale on February 24, and will raise awareness and funds to support SNMAL’s tireless, 50+ year fight to tell the stories of the LGBTQIA+ community, ensuring it holds its place in the historic record.  This most significant LGBTQIA+ library, archives, and museum is a one-of-a-kind institution collecting and sharing powerful stories, hosting dynamic weekly events, launching fact based solutions to real world problems and mobilizing educators who face an ever more difficult time educating students.

The Standing on the Shoulders of Heroes Gala expects 500+ guests and VIPS to attend this high-energy celebration of inspiring messages, delicious eats, entertainment, open bar, awards, and live auction.  Last year’s Gala raised a record-breaking sum and was supported by major corporate sponsors nationwide and generating nearly 50% of their operating funds. It’s fitting that Stonewall, which provides an inexhaustible historic record of achievements in the face of prejudice and hate, is recognizing courageous leaders and heroes.

Attending Honorees and Special Guests Include:

A Hero for Our Time Award – iconic athlete Diana Nyad, whose historic swim from Cuba to Key West inspired the just-released Netflix Biopic NYAD (from which Annette Bening and Jody Foster have earned 2024 OSCAR, Screen Actors Guild and Golden Globe Nominations); will be honored and added to SNMAL’s Standing on the Shoulders of Heroes traveling educational exhibit.

Fortitude & Resilience Award – Star & Director of the HBO Films documentary, The Stroll, Kristen Lovell who will be joined by fellow survivors and share an inspiring story of hope and resilience, ingrained in this community’s legacy.

Courage in Leadership Award – Stacy Ritter, who is the President and CEO of Visit Lauderdale, who, in a state that has banned books, banned gender affirming healthcare, divided families, challenged and demeaned educators, has risked much to keep Broward County a welcoming place for our community to visit, live, and work. 

I asked Stacy her thoughts on receiving this honor and she said: “I am honored and humbled to receive the Stonewall Museum and Archives Courage in Leadership Award.  My wish is for a time when it isn’t considered courageous to stand up for marginalized communities but, until that time comes, I am deeply moved to be the recipient of this award.”

I then asked my good friend, Richard Gray, Visit Lauderdale’s Senior Vice President to tell me a bit about Stacy and he said: “Stacy Ritter has become one of the most progressive and visionary Destination Marketing Organizations CEO’s in the USA for Visit Lauderdale. I am so proud of all Visit Lauderdale’s accomplishments with Stacy at the helm. Stacy is an incredible gutsy Leader and this destination is where we are because of her vision and leadership. I adore her.”

The gala will also feature special guest, outspoken influencer and LGBTQIA+ activist Zander Moricz. Zander rose to national media fame via viral videos of his High School Graduation speech opposing Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” Law as well as his recent viral response to  a Florida school board president, whose private antics created a media frenzy, and has been in the forefront of the Don’t Say Gay statewide and national efforts.

To purchase tickets to the Standing on the Shoulders of Heroes Gala, for sponsorships or for more information go to: stonewall-museum.org/11650-2/