The Dolphin Democrats celebrated their 35 years of politics in the LGBT community by holding an Awards Gayla Honoring LGBTA Pioneers. Over 100 members and friends of the Dolphins attended the event, held at Café Vico Restaurant and Piano Bar in Fort Lauderdale.

Among the dignitaries present were U.S. Representative Ted Deutch, State Representative David Richardson, Broward County Commissioner Dale V.C. Holness, Pembroke Pines City Commissioner Iris Siple and Terry Fleming, President of the Florida LGBTA Democratic Caucus, who led the assembly in the Pledge of Allegiance.

Dolphins Michael Albetta and Mitch Weisbrot organized this event, assisted by a corps of volunteers, which featured Café Vico’s gourmet Italian cuisine as well as testimonials honoring the LGBTA Pioneers.

The Gayla began with a Proclamation from the City of Wilton Manors, read by Commissioner Julie Carson. The Jamie Bloodworth Leadership Award, given annually in memory of the late Dolphin founder and human rights activist, was given to U.S. Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz who, like previous winners, “has shown excellence in leadership and/or sponsorship of issues improving the human rights of the LGBTA community at large.”

Rep. Wasserman Schultz also introduced and presented their awards to several of the LGBTA Pioneers, before she had to leave to take care of her sick daughter.

Most of the Dolphins Gayla was taken up with testimonials honoring 15 LGBTA Pioneers. The honors were not limited to LGBT activists but included several straight Allies (the As in LGBTA).

The first Pioneer honored was 102 years young Lottie Albert, who devoted her long life in support of progressive causes in Broward County and elsewhere, including LGBT rights.

Other LGBT Pioneers honored were Robin Bodiford, Esq.; Mitch Ceasar, Esq.; The Honorable Howard Finkelstein; The Honorable Howard Forman; The Honorable Tom Green; V. Jean Johnson; SFGN Publisher Norm Kent; Ray Rideout; Richard “Dick” Rogers; Barbara Stuart; The Honorable Dean Trantalis; Bruce Williams; and Victor Zepka. I was also one of the honorees.

Each of the Pioneers was introduced by a “special guest” politician or community member familiar with said honoree, including the Pride Center’s Robert Boo and Rabbi Noah Kitty. An exception was made for honorees (and friends) Norm Kent and Howard Finkelstein, who introduced each other.

In addition to honoring some deserving individuals, the Annual Awards Gayla helped the Dolphin Democrats raise funds, recruit members and increase the Club’s visibility in the LGBT community and elsewhere. Dolphins President Scott Herman was pleased with the results and looked forward to similar events in the future.