Palm Beach: More Than 200 Attend Equality Florida’s Palm Beach Gala 

Louis Frankel (center left) poses with Chris Rhodes (center right) ad other guests. Photo Via Chris Rhoades

Equality Florida hosted its sixth annual Palm Beach gala last week at West Palm Beach’s Culture Lab, which pulled in almost 200 attendees. 

Several Palm Beach County figures, like Riana Petrone, PNC’s Vice President of Business Banking Paul Abad, recent elected officials, and others, attended for a good cause. As for money raised, Chris Rhoades, a member of the organization’s Steering Committee, said, “$18,450 was raised in the room tonight, for a total of $52,695 raised for the gala. If we count the $22,500 in kind donations that’s $75,195 in total.”

Equality Florida is the largest civil rights organization dedicated to securing full equality for Florida's LGBT community. It was formed in 1997 and has helped defeat many pieces of anti-LGBT legislation filed in Tallahassee since its founding. 

It has fought efforts to overturn local anti-discrimination policies, repeal all safe schools’ policies, expand Florida’s anti-gay adoption ban, and prohibit domestic partnership benefits and protections.

Last year’s gala honored Vita Nova, a nonprofit offering resources for homeless youth, and Sandra Saladrigas, co-chair of Equality Florida’s Palm Beach gala. This year, the main honoree was Rep. Lois Frankel, who received the 2019 Voice for Equality reward. 

Frankel was the chairwoman on the AIDS Task Force at the time when funding for research and treatment was needed. She is a former mayor of West Palm Beach and has served as a member of the LGBT Equality Caucus.

As she accepted her award, she spoke about her vision for her grandchild.

“I want him to have a life of joy and a life of opportunity,” she said. “I want him to be loved and to love whomever he wants.”

This event was sponsored by Compass, Guardians Credit Union, Art Hive Magazine, Big Mama’s House of Sweets, and New York Sound and Visual. This is the fifth year PNC has been the statewide sponsor. Over the years, PNC has donated over a quarter million to Equality Florida.

Over cocktails and light hors d’oeuvres, popular Palm Beach DJ Karin Ward provided the soundtrack to the dance floor that kept guests grooving. Ballet Florida also sung at the gala. 

To complement the art being sold, the gala was arts-themed, decked with Andy Warhol decor. In true Warhol fashion, guests saw huge sunglasses hanging from the ceiling along with images of Liza Minnelli and Warhol’s famous Campbell’s soup cans.