Following its much surprised Orlando celebration involving acting legend Ed Asner, A Celebration of Friends is eyeing a move to California for its next gathering.
Founder and President of the organization, Tom Pence, said the mainstreaming of gay life is opening new doors. Pence said Asner’s participation at the recent gathering in Orlando illustrates how far the organization has come.
“I thought he was untouchable,” Pence said. “It was a true honor to have Mr. Asner speak to the men.”
Asner, 85, did not discuss his sexuality, but did have a few choice words for Fox News commentator Sean Hannity, calling the conservative radio host a “depraved little choir boy.”
The question and answer segment with Asner was attended by well over 300 people at the Doubletree By Hilton SeaWorld Orlando. The weeklong festivities marked 14 years of existence for A Celebration of Friends, a group Pence (aka Tomcat) launched in New Orleans as a vehicle to bring mature gay men and their admirers together in a safe and supportive setting.
In Orlando, attendees were treated to film screenings of movies starring Asner as well as informative sessions regarding healthcare and changes to Medicare programs. HIV testing stations were also available.
Asner’s answers to questions from audience members had attendees talking all through the evening poolside at the Doubletree. When asked about his homophobic portrayal of a political campaign donor on CBS’ “The Good Wife,” Asner said he modeled the performance off Las Vegas Casino owner Sheldon Adelson.
“The coming battle,” Asner warned. “is Orthodoxy.”
Meanwhile, Pence said A Celebration of Friends is currently polling membership as to who should headline next year’s event and where it should be held. Several members are pushing for Palm Springs, Calif as a host city.
Wayne Patterson, past President of Primetimers of the Desert, said Palm Springs is an ideal destination for gay men of distinction.
“It’s a majority gay city and very friendly,” Patterson said.