In the wake of the Orlando massacre, Compass Community Center has heightened security for the 15th annual Stonewall Ball Black & White Party on June 25.
More than 1,000 elected officials and community leaders are expected to fill the historic Harriet Himmel Theater in West Palm Beach as the event honors nearly 50 years of accomplishments of the LGBT rights movement.
The party with a purpose will open its doors for VIP ticket holders at 7:30 p.m. with general admission entrance at 9 p.m. Attendees will experience a night of political engagement, an award ceremony and a moment of silence for the victims of the Pulse Nightclub shooting.
“[This is] an opportunity for our elected appointed officials and organization leaders to interact directly with the communities that they are serving,” Compass Community Center CEO, Tony Plakas said.
One of the biggest issues the LGBT community has face this last year is the issue of gender neutral bathrooms. This will be a focal point throughout the night.
According to Plakas, the theme of this year’s event is a “Pop of Purple” that will focus on gender non-conformity throughout the night.
“Each year we’ve had some sort of issue to bring awareness to,” Plakas said. “This year we are highlighting gender neutral bathrooms.”
The event will also pay homage to Purple Rain artist Prince who recently passed away.
“He was a pioneer for the gender nonconformist movement,” Plakas said. “There will be a 30 minute set of just his music sometime in the night.”
Compass will also be honoring two individuals during the night for their continue support and commitment to the LGBT community.
This year’s Michael Brown Face of the Community Award will be going to Heather Wright for her work in Compass’ Gender Society Program.
According to Plakas, Wright is someone who is a passionate and driven individual who everyone knows and respects. Plakas said that there isn't anyone better for this award than Wright.
This year's Compass Leadership Award will go to Commissioner Melissa McKinlay who recently passed a proclamation declaring June as LGBT Pride Month for Palm Beach County.
Additionally, the event will pay respect to the victims of the Orlando massacre where 49 people were fatally shot and 53 others were injured by a gunman who opened fire on hundreds of people on June 12 at Pulse, a popular gay nightclub in Orlando.
Tickets can be purchased online at CompassGLCC.com. Tickets for general admission starts at $25 in advance or $35 at the door. Tickets for VIP early entrance are $75.
Because of the high demand for tickets, all guest who purchase tickets will be held in their name at will call.
According to Plakas, since the event’s start in 2002, the LGBT community has achieved so much.
“[The Stonewall Ball] shows the phenomenal power of our community when it comes to the political process,” Plakas said. “We want people to know we aren't just a voting block. We are actual citizens of this country.”