PGN to host Stonewall Awards Brunch

To honor those who have impacted the LGBTQ+ community, Philadelphia Gay News in tandem with presenting sponsor Visit Philadelphia will host the Stonewall Awards Brunch on Sunday, June 26 at the Arts Ballroom in Center City. The event will be hosted by 6ABC meteorologist Adam Joseph and livestreamed by WPVI-TV. Awardees include Stephen Carlino of the Tavern Group; photographer HughE Dillon; Michael Hinson, president and chief operating officer of the housing organization SELF, Inc.; Delaware state Senator Sarah McBride, actress LGBTQ ally Sheryl Lee Ralph; the organization Students Run Philly Style. An award will also be given to former Visit Philadelphia CEO Jeff Guaracino, who passed away in December 2021.

Guaracino and PGN publisher Mark Segal, who were good friends, started planning the Stonewall Awards Brunch over a year ago. 

“[Jeff] always was looking for ways to promote Philadelphia and its connections to history including LGBT History,” Segal said. “The awards are meant to celebrate all we have achieved as a community since that night in 1969, and they’re a chance for us to spend one day united in our struggle for equality. It’s also a little bittersweet since it was the last project I worked on with Jeff, and I’m proud that we have added an award to honor his special gift to our city and the LGBT community.” 

Guaracino will posthumously receive the Innovation and Spirit award. As former vice president of communications and then the CEO of Visit Philadelphia, Guaracino was well known for creating the TV campaign “Get Your History Straight and Your Nightlife Gay.” The ad, which won numerous awards, made Philadelphia the first city to advertise LGBTQ tourism on TV. “That one campaign brought LGBTQ visibility to millions,” Segal said in a previous interview. “Jeff saw the potential in the community. He believed in it and he was a huge part of it.” Guaracino sat on the board of the U.S. Travel Association and other agencies, wrote two books on his love of tourism and travel, and contributed a travel column to PGN, where he wrote about cities all over the world, including Philadelphia.

Carlino will receive the Community Business Leader award. After changing careers in his mid-40s, he realized his dream in 2004 and bought the building that currently houses Tavern on Camac. It has provided a safe haven for LGBTQ folks ever since. Carlino expanded his nightlife business to include UBar, and formed partnerships with Tabu Sports Bar & Lounge and Otto’s Taproom & Grille. He currently lives in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. with his husband of 26 years. The couple has contributed to several HIV/AIDS organizations, Manna, Mazzoni Center and the William Way LGBT Community Center.

Dillon will receive the Equality Media award. He is a self-taught photographer who specializes in charity events, openings and celebrity photography. His work has appeared in Philly Style Magazine, Philly Magazine, Mainline Today, CBSPhilly and his own publication PhillyChitChat, where he documents Philadelphia’s social, political, pop culture and lifestyle scenes. He is also a long-time contributor to Fox 29’s Good Day Philadelphia. His celebrity photos, which include shots of Bradley Cooper, Sylvester Stallone and Reese Witherspoon, have appeared in People, Us, the National Enquirer and many other magazines. He has been married to his supportive husband, Michael Toub, for 28 years. 

Hinson will receive the Lifetime Achievement award. He has a vast history of making positive change for LGBTQ communities. Before he started working at SELF, Hinson founded and ran the organization COLOURS and co-created Philadelphia Black Pride. He has played an integral role in creating and influencing policies related to homelessness and LGBTQ civil rights in Philadelphia: he initiated the addition of protections based on gender identity to the City’s Fair Practices Ordinance; he played a part in the development of Mazzoni Center, then PCHA, the city’s first LGBTQ-specific health center; he made recommendations to the Department of Homeless Services on the neglect of LGBTQ youth, staff development, quality assurance and other improvements; and he made sure that LGBTQ issues were included in the City’s Ten Year Plan to End Homelessness, among other contributions to the LGBTQ community.

McBride will receive an award for being the first out trans U.S. state senator, having won the seat in 2020. An accomplished advocate and leader, McBride spoke at the 2016 Democratic National Convention about her transness and the need to achieve more societal progress in terms of accepting trans and LGBTQ individuals. In 2013, she played an integral part in lobbying the Delaware General Assembly to pass a law banning discrimination based on gender identity. The state legislature ultimately passed the bill. Throughout her time working for politicians, working as national press secretary for the Human Rights Campaign, and in all of her political endeavors, McBride has advocated for trans civil rights. As a state senator, she continues to fight for basic human rights including accessible healthcare, livable wages and high-quality public schools.   

Ralph will receive the Pioneering Ally award. She is well known for her work in the ABC comedy “Abbott Elementary,” as well as for being in the original cast of the Broadway musical “Dreamgirls.” She is a Tony Award nominee, NAACP Image Award nominee and Independent Spirit Award winner whose career in film, TV and theater has spanned over 30 years. Ralph’s LGBTQ advocacy has manifested in part when she wrote and directed the LGBTQ short film “Secrets,” which was a finalist in multiple film competitions and was selected as the audience favorite at the Outfest Film Festival. She has also advocated for the community via interviews about her role in the TV show “Motherland: Fort Salem,” which includes LGBTQ characters. 

The leadership team of Students Run Philly Style (SRPS) will receive the Youth Programs award. SRPS changes students’ lives via running and mentorship. The organization serves local youth 11-21 years old, nearly 20% of whom identify as a sexual minority. SRPS connects mentors with teams of students for the purpose of building motivation, with the goal of running a full or half marathon. The SRPS OUTPace program is a commitment to provide inclusive support through research-based mentoring services, with an ultimate goal of improving health outcomes and boosting protection for LGBTQ youth in Pennsylvania. 

For information about tickets, please email [email protected]

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Michele Zipkin is a staff writer for Philadelphia Gay News, where she reports on issues including LGBTQ youth issues, housing insecurity, healthcare, city government and advocacy organizations, and events. Her work has been recognized by the Keystone Media Awards, Society of Professional Journalists, National Newspaper Association, and more. She received her BA from Goucher College and her MA in journalism from Temple University. She has been on staff with PGN since January 2020 and previously worked as a freelancer.