It’s not every night you get to spend an evening celebrating 40 of the most influential lesbians in the New York, but when you also get to share it with two of the critically acclaimed opera divas, as well? THAT’S a night to remember.
Here’s the scoop… The Stonewall Foundation recently honored 40 women for their contribution to community as part of the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots. Being honored among those women was Kelli O’Donnell, one of the founders of R Family Vacations — a great company do great work for gay and lesbian families, just check out the 3 minute video on their home page — for whom my best friend of more than 25 years, Dan LoBuono, works. A very gracious Kelli extended an additional invite, so Dan grabbed me and we went.
The first portion of the evening was where I met Beth Clayton and Patricia Racette. Opera novice that I am, I had no idea I was in the presence of such amazing talents — I merely thought they were fabulous women who shared a love of good friends, a good laugh, and, of course, a good margarita! But, there was so much more to their stories as the night wore on, and I enjoyed every minute of it. And I enjoyed reviewing there Web sites, bios and careers the next morning, very much cognizant of the fact that I was SO glad I didn’t know who they were before the night began, or I would have been so tongue-tied and sheepish that I didn’t know their world better than I do. But none of that mattered because they both put me at ease, were wonderfully funny, and most importantly, were just so very real.
The latter portion of the evening took place at the Highline Ballroom in Chelsea, and was less intimate, but great for people watching — and learning. Whenever I see people honored for their contributions to a cause as potentially volatile as gay rights, I always feel a little less than adequate. What have I done? What else can I do? One of the speakers — Ann Northrop — put it best when she spoke briefly: “All it takes is not letting a bigoted or racist comment go unnoticed or unanswered, no matter where you or are who you are with.” Thank you, Ann, for understanding just what I needed to hear at that given moment. And thank you Kelli, Beth and Patricia for being such powerful examples to all of us that simply being ourselves can be more potent than anything else we might dream of.