Jason (left) and deMarco performed at
the third annual PFLAG Winston-Salem awards banquet.
WINSTON-SALEM — On a brisk Saturday evening at the end of October, community members, leaders and activists gathered for a night of good food, fellowship and celebration.
The third annual Kaleidoscope Awards Banquet of the Winston-Salem chapter of Parents, Family and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) was the largest ever held by the organization. Almost 200 people filled the social hall of Augsburg Lutheran Church to enjoy a performance by popular musical duo (and couple) Jason and DeMarco and to hear a moving keynote address by Wake Forest University School of Law professor Shannon Gilreath.
Gilreath has authored two books and argued LGBT-related cases before the North Carolina Supreme Court. He implored the crowd to work more diligently on issues facing the LGBT community.
“My friends — Parents, Family, Friends of Lesbian and Gay People — I am asking you, [and] I don’t mind begging you, to give this fight all you’ve got,” he said. “Make it what you eat, sleep and breathe. Gay women and men everywhere are depending on you to live on the right side of history now.”
In keeping with that call, PFLAG Winston-Salem presented four Kaleidoscope Awards to community members and organizations that have contributed to the movement.
The Business Award went to Dell, Inc., which recently opened a manufacturing facility in the city. Dell has inclusive employment policies and offers full domestic partner benefits.
The Unitarian-Universalist Fellowship of Winston-Salem, a congregation known for its outspoken and strong support of the LGBT community, received the Kaleidoscope Faith Community Award. Rev. Charles Davis expressed the congregation’s appreciation and “tipped his hat” to the faith communities and religious leaders present at the dinner.
PFLAG Winston-Salem President Thomas Farmer presented the Rev. Susan Parker with the Kaleidoscope Individual Award.
The Volunteer of the Year Award was given to Jonathan Chaney, who has assisted PFLAG Winston-Salem in its re-branding efforts and website maintenance.
The recipient of the Individual Kaleidoscope Award was Rev. Susan Parker, associate pastor of Wake Forest Baptist Church. She is a co-founder of CHANGE, Communities Helping All Neighbors Gain Empowerment, a social justice organization that promotes a broad range of progressive issues in the city.
Parker is also a former president of PFLAG Winston-Salem and a former chair of the now-defunct Winston-Salem chapter of the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN). Through her work with these groups, she has counseled the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Board of Education on issues relating to the safety of LGBT students and staff.
The Safe School Award presented at previous dinners was absent from this year’s event.
Emcee Ana Tampanna told the crowd, “We are disappointed to announce that there is no nomination this year for a safe school in Winston-Salem. We salute our past award winners, Wake Forest University and the N.C. School of the Arts, for their continued efforts to provide a safe environment meeting the needs of LGBT students. We encourage the local public school system to recognize the importance of supporting this community as well.”
An after-party event with Jason and DeMarco drew about 50 people to Gotham Park, an upscale decorating store in the city’s downtown arts district.
PFLAG leaders were pleased by the event’s success. Since donations from corporate sponsors covered the cost of the dinner, all ticket sales went directly to the organization.