On Wednesday, Dec. 6, SAVE will hold their annual Luminary Awards to honor local young professionals for their leadership and contributions in the LGBT community. Past honorees have included individuals from diverse professions, ethnic and racial backgrounds, and sexual orientations with those who identify as LGBT or allies.
With the wide range of backgrounds of Luminaries, the common denominator is their work that has the capacity to inspire and illuminate the path for other young individuals who want to assume a leadership role or offer their talents in the community.
As an organization that was conceived in 1993, SAVE has been advocating for the equal rights of Florida’s LGBT community and has been responsible for many victories for equality in the past twenty-five years.
Some of SAVE’s highlights have been the Miami Dade County Comprehensive Human Rights Ordinance; the election of Florida’s first openly gay legislator, Representative David Richardson (D-FL 113th District), and the historic March 2014 case where SAVE, the ACLU, and eight LGBT couples challenged the state of Florida’s refusal to recognize their marriages, which were performed in other states and recognized by the federal government.
As with many organizations, SAVE realizes that the furthering the legacy of its work in future years resides with young professionals. Which is why in 2013 a new event emerged, the SAVE Luminary Awards.
When asked about the genesis of the Luminary Awards event, SAVE Executive Director, Tony Lima, stated “When I took the helm at SAVE in September of 2013, I was really inspired by the young activists that I met working in our community. Generally, people are recognized at the end of their careers. I thought how inspiring it would be to uplift the stories of young people who are also doing great work. How wonderful would it be to highlight these folks for their merits and also show them as glowing examples for other young professionals and the community at large, so the Luminaries were born.” That year the first Luminary event was celebrated where Dr. Hansel Tookes of the University of Miami, Tori Bertran of SunServe and Víctor Diaz Herman of Pridelines were honored.
This year’s inspiring assemblage of Luminaries includes: Florida State Representative Shevrin Jones (D-FL 101st District); Dancer and Choreographer, Pioneer Winter; Community Non Profit Leader, Rebecca Fishman Lipsey of Radical Partners; Philanthropist and Community Volunteer, Rick Morgan; Aqua Foundation for Women Program Director and Miami Foundation Fellow, MJ Castells and Drag Diva and Humanitarian, Athena Dion.
With the holidays right around the corner from the SAVE Luminary Awards the event is billed to be a holiday extravaganza with food, an open bar, music and entertainment performances by Tiffany Fantasia, Noel Leon, TLO Ivy, Missy Meyakie Lepage and 2017 Luminary Honoree Athena Dion. Two special awards will be introduced this year, the “Super Volunteer Award,” which will honor a volunteer that goes above and beyond in the LGBT community and “The People’s Choice Luminary,” an award that gives the community an opportunity to select a Luminary through an online voting process.
In addition to the SAVE Luminary Awards, SAVE has a “Sentinel Program” for young professionals, which serves as a membership program that holds monthly events and opportunities to connect. SAVE also has a strategic alliance with Gay Vista Social Club, a premiere LGBT young professionals group in South Florida.
Former Executive Director of Gay Vista Social Club, Jonathan Barrio, now serves as SAVE’s Development Manager and is focused on building more opportunities and initiatives for young professionals at SAVE.