Last night the Pride Toronto Gala and Awards benefit went down at the Fermenting Cellar in the Distillery District. At $250 a plate, this was a major event and fund-raising effort that attempted to honour “community members who have demonstrated extraordinary achievement to queer life.”
Here, the word ‘community’ is not limited to Toronto, despite this being a Pride Toronto event. In fact, only half of the awards went to Toronto-ish people: HIV researcher Sharon Walmsley, Salaam Toronto‘s El-Farouk Khaki, Frank Toskan (co-founder of M.A.C & The Toskan Foundation,) and the Fearless Award going to James Loney & Dan Hunt. Loney was held captive in Iraq while he was on a peacemaking mission. He was rescued along with other captives in a joint military operation.
The remaining awards were given to people in the broader bounds of the community. Olympic Gold Metal winner Mark Tewksbury (also known for his narrations on TV’s How It’s Made) was on hand to promote the 1st World OutGames in Montreal. American filmmaker Duncan Tucker, won the Arts & Culture award for his film Transamerica. Mega-controversial Irshad Manji was also honoured, but was not there to accept her award.
The most surprising of all awards, however, was the Youth Leadership honour given to Sean Gehon. You may remember him as the failed MuchMusic VJ Search hopeful turned Star! reporter. This Torontoist doubts that he was the best candidate for the honour, and knows there are so many youths out in Toronto putting in the hours, and working hard for the betterment of the queer community. But since they weren’t on TV, they will go unnoticed.
But don’t let this deter you from volunteering at pride this year. Perhaps then you’ll meet a real youth leader.
[photo: Pride Toronto Gala - Pride Toronto Website]