Diversity Honors 2018. Photo: Via Facebook

Harvey Milk Foundation organizers said the fifth incarnation of Diversity Honors was an unmitigated success.

More than 400 people attended the dress to impress and entertainment rich evening at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Hollywood on March 30.

Miriam Richter, education director and counsel for the Harvey Milk Foundation, said $102,000 was raised, which does not include the in-kind donations. That’s compared to $80,000 in 2017, according to the Diversity Honors website. 

The money, Richter said, is split equally between the foundation and The Pride Center at Equality Park. 

“This year surpassed [expectations] on so many levels,” Richter told SFGN. “It’s always been a successful event, but this year the vibe was very different. Everyone there was on point, on the mission, on [the] purpose. I felt that in general the overall feeling for the evening was spectacular.”

Diversity Honors is the sole fundraiser of the year for the Harvey Milk Foundation. It’s a significant one for The Pride Center as well. The Harvey Milk Foundation founded Diversity Honors. It brought in The Pride Center to be the event’s boots on the ground. 

‘Stepped up’

Food, drink, entertainment, an always top-notch décor, and the after party vie for the attention of those who buy a ticket, bid on an auction item and attend Diversity Honors. But it’s the people being honored who typically steal the show.

“They are always wonderful people, well deserving of the recognition and the honor,” Richter said. 

She said the 2019 honoree lineup was “stepped up” with a high-profile national name – Meghan McCain – the outspoken co-host of TV show “The View” on ABC and daughter of the recently deceased U.S. Sen. John McCain.

 

“Everyone was 100 percent behind her and she was 100 percent behind us. She also followed though on her commitment to the community when the following week she invited [U.S. Army Captain Jennifer Peace and U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Patricia King] on ‘The View’ to discuss transgender service members in the military,” Richter said.

Peace and King have been lauded for their public resistance to the Trump Administration’s attempt to ban transgender individuals from serving in the military.

The Diversity Honors event and host Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Hollywood were both mentioned in the TV segment as well.

At the Hard Rock, Stuart Milk, the nephew of Harvey Milk who was assassinated 41 years ago, emceed and gave out the awards. He lauded Meghan McCain during the ceremony.

“Meghan has created a maverick legacy all her own. She has been absolutely relentless and steadfast as a champion of LGBT rights,” he said, adding that Meghan McCain had been an early supporter of same sex marriage and gay adoption.

Richter, meanwhile, has worked for the foundation for about a decade. She is also a full-time attorney for the Seminole Tribe of Florida, who she successfully approached five years ago to become the headlining sponsor of Diversity Honors.

At this year’s event, Florida Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz recognized Richter and Pride Center CEO Robert Boo with certificates of Special Congressional Recognition.

Other stars of the night

Others honorees included Florida Democratic Congressman Ted Deutch, whose District 22 encompasses the city of Wilton Manors; Phil Wilson, who served as AIDS coordinator for the city of Los Angeles from 1990 to 1993; and Tony Lima, executive director of SAVE, a longtime advocacy organization.

The Alan Schubert Award of Excellence (Schubert was the founder of the Pride Centera died in 2016) was given to the entire Wilton Manors City Commission.

Wilton Manors is only the second city in the U.S. to have an all LBGT commission – Palm Springs, California, was the first.

For previous coverage of Diversity Honors, go to sfgn.com.