In New York City around Christmas time, one of the most highly-anticipated events of the year is the annual SAGE Toys Party at Pier 60. I have gone five years in a row, and it’s a festive occasion to give to charity and also connect with the who’s who of the LGBTQ community from various backgrounds and industries. Some of this year’s notable sponsors were HBO, Patron, Airbnb, Viacom, Hello Fresh, and Jet.com.
The SAGE Toys arty is presented by Robby Browne, Chris Kann & David Tufts. Previous honorees and guests include Whoopi Goldberg, Barbara Corcoran of Shark Tank. Last year, as soon as I walked into the party, Whoopi was nearby. She was being whisked off by her team toward the main stage in preparation to give a speech. She stopped a second, looked at my ensemble: a cranberry velvet blazer, a crisp white collared shirt, and a coordinated bow tie (hand-tied, of course). I was also wearing a winter white tuxedo scarf for an accent of drama. Whoopi gave me the thumbs up and mouthed, “I like that.” Woooooo child, I was on cloud nine the entire rest of the evening!
This year I arrived about an hour into the evening’s kickoff, just as the guest of honor, CNN anchor Don Lemon began a heartfelt speech about unity and hope in the holiday season. Of course, it was hard to clearly hear him with so many boys flapping their yaps and ordering their cocktails at one of the multiple, fully-stocked Ketel One-sponsored bars. Ketel has long been a partner of the event, and it has really established itself over the years in various venues as a trusted ally brand to the LGBTQ community.
Each year SAGE asks guests to bring an unwrapped toy to be distributed to various LGBT-friendly charities. Among this year’s charities are The Police Precinct Community Center, Camp Felix, Ali Forney Center, Brooklyn ACE Integration Head Start, God’s Love We Deliver, Grace Baptist/Faith Mission, The Iris House, and UEW Jericho Project/Brick Church. The number of toys was mountainous by the time I arrived, and there were still three hours left. By the time I had taken a few photobooth pics with friends and one of the sexy SAGE Santas, I came back to discover the pile of toys had almost doubled in size.
The Toys Party is but one of many SAGE initiatives. The organization’s primary mission is to stand proudly with the LGBT pioneers across the country who have been fighting for decades for their right to live with dignity and respect. In other words, SAGE is an advocacy group for not just LGBT rights but specifically for the protection of aging and elderly LGBT seniors.
Their work is essential and a potential benefit to all of us. We can never know if such assistance and protections as seniors might be needed one day in our own lives so I encourage you to learn more about this vital organization. Please attend one of their future events or reach directly to get involved and donate.
Remember, we are all in this together, and honey, none of us are growing any younger.