Pride month is about parades and parties, but what about adding another "p" word to that list: philanthropy. One event during Pride Month that deserves our attention is BROADWAY SINGS FOR PRIDE on June 20th. It's an event where the Broadway community comes together and raises money for the LGBT community.
Founded in the spring of 2011 in response to the tragic suicides within LGBT community, Broadway Sings for Pride founder Neal Bennington realized something had to be done to make sure the community, and especially the younger generations knew there were voices out there to support them. Neal had an idea to utilize some of New York’s best talent- the theater community and beyond. Reaching out, dozens of performers gladly wanted to help further this. The response was so overwhelming, which resulted in Broadway Sings for Pride’s inaugural concert on June 27, 2011. The sold out concert featured stories and music with many luminaries from television, Broadway, and the music industries. Since then, Broadway Sings for Pride has held their annual winter concerts and Gay Pride concerts which raised thousands for the Hetrick-Martin Institute and The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center of New York City. – broadwaysingsforpride.com/about-us
To learn more about this event I was able to reach out to one of my Facebook friends, Tommy DiDario, Lifestyle Writer, Advocate & Entrepreneur, who will be co-hosting this year. he informed me that this year the event will highlight two honorees, one of them being the Tyler Clementi Foundation.
For more on Tyler's story, go to the Tyler Clementi Foundations website here.
In a recent Facebook post DiDario wrote.
There is a serious problem in how we treat each other. Hiding behind a computer screen, people think they can torment, tease, and harass somebody for anything they decide is “newsworthy” enough to make fun of. But how can you expect others to accept and understand the gay community, when people in our very own community spew hatred? This is a community that already has to fight harder and louder to be heard and accepted, and yet so many use hateful rhetoric towards one another. I have been blown away by the support from so many people around the world — from mothers of gay and straight teenage boys expressing how our story of love and marriage has moved them, to helping men of all ages make steps towards coming out, to couples expressing how we have helped them make the decision to get married after being together for years. But I have also received messages from members of the gay community criticizing everything from our appearance to our intelligence. Some have even wished us an unsuccessful marriage. Here’s something to think about. Young teens around the world consider suicide every single day because they are bullied by their peers for being gay. This is unacceptable and I will do whatever I can to shed light on this horrific problem. I will always try to help, support, and raise someone up in a positive way. Instead of supporting people and being an advocate for human rights, why are some gay men okay with becoming bullies themselves? I will never understand the motives behind such hateful words, but what I do understand is that this needs to stop. Until it does, these men are no better than the people causing such turmoil and sadness for gay kids, teens, and even adults who are being harassed, bullied, and ostracized for being gay. I challenge you to realize the negative energy you are putting out there and how you are setting back your very own community for what we all have fought so hard for: acceptance and respect. Let’s focus on being kind to one another, on raising each other up and supporting one another, and working together to continue making strides for acceptance and love. Let’s help everyone find the strength to realize their worth and that they too deserve to live a life of complete happiness.
DiDario actually posted this to Facebook before he was approached to co-host the event. One of the many reasons he accepted the hosting position was that this event is a great example of the “community coming together to show SUPPORT for one another, to raise money together for a beautiful cause, and show solidarity. [We need to] treat one another with love and kindness and support fellow members of the LGBT community. [This event is] really about also coming together to raise people up through song, to show that music connects us all and we are a community that deserves to be heard."
Besides DiDario, the other co-host will be Lesli Margherita. Some of the more well known performers and presenters will be Bebe Neuwirth, Henry Krieger, Suze Orman, Brick Ciarlelli, Patricia Velasquez, Nathan Graham, Kimberley Locke, and Daniel Quadrino.
In my conversation with DiDario, he reiterated often that it was truly an honor to be chosen to co-host this event, highlighting others that would be attending, like the second honoree, Ruth Coker Burks. "Although she had no formal medical training, in the darkest hour of the American AIDS epidemic, Burks cared for hundreds of dying people, many of them gay men who had been abandoned by their families. She buried over three dozen of them with her own two hands, after their families refused to claim their bodies. For many of those people, she is now the only person who knows the location of their graves. She used her own money to pay for their graves, sometimes barely feeding her own family. This is her first time EVER in New York City and she is so touched we are sharing her story." For more about Ruth, here's an article from the Arkansas Times about this "Cemetery Angel."
I'm a little jealous of Tommy being able to co-host this event. In a direct quote from the Broadway Sings for Pride Director, Neal Bennington elaborated on the selection of DiDario.
Tommy captures the essence of what it means to be a proud LGBT member of the community. Immediately I thought he would be a perfect co-host, not just because of his magnetic energy and humble nature but because of his big heart on wanting to help the community. It is amazing to see a positive gay couple in the media which helps further what we all stand for – love. He is such a fantastic motivator and a true example that shows LGBT people can have it all! We are thrilled to have two amazing honorees this year, The Tyler Clementi Foundation and AIDS activist Ruth Coker Burks. Although both of their touching stories took place decades apart, their messages are the same: taking something tragic and striving to make the LGBT community safer and better. These honorees are very close to our heart. Music and the arts are a very power things. Using songs as our platform, we are hoping to reach many people who may be in cities and countries all over the world that may need a helping voice. Our goal is to use the arts as a form of outreach for the community.
In looking at all of the listed presenters and performers, there will be a great mash-up of what makes our community great, what we stand for, and how we live our lives, definitely a great embodiment of PRIDE.
As mentioned, this is the 6th time Broadway Sings for Pride will be held. It is gaining momentum as a wonderful event with a grand heart. So for those of you in and around NYC, please attend and bring our love with you. And if you cannot attend and would like to donate, go to broadwaysingsforpride.com and they will gladly accept your funds via the magic of technology. Here's a quick video of the last 5 years of performances.
Thank you all for doing what you do. I wish I could attend.
Tommy DiDario reaches hundreds of thousands of people monthly through his combined social media channels. He is a social influencer, lifestyle writer and advocate for happiness and self-worth. DiDario is the CEO of DiDario Consulting, helping brands and companies in finding their digital voice and identity.