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Luscious 2006 for Ali Forney Center
Lucille Lortel Theater, New York City
by Mark Thompson & Robert Doyle
June 12, 2006   photo-album    Bookmark and Share

Given the recent gay-bashing attack on Kevin Aviance and the attendant publicity, last night’s benefit for the Ali Forney Center, Luscious 2006 at the Lucille Lortel Theatre, was perhaps even more poignant than in years past.  Started in 2002 in response to the lack of shelter for at-risk LGBT youth, most of whom have been rejected by their families, the Ali Forney Center is eponymously named for a youth who was murdered on the streets in 1997.  Nicknamed Luscious, his murder attracted the notice of the New York Times which castigated the city for their neglect of the city’s LGBT at-risk youth.

And last night, Alan Cumming, prior to introducing the founder of Ali Forney, Carl Siciliano, made perfectly clear the connection between the current administration’s homophobic policies, as marked this week by the inflammatory Federal Marriage Amendment, and how such intolerance and hatred makes its way down to the streets.  Forty percent of gay youth who come out of the closet are rejected by their families – and Carl Siciliano told several horror stories about the responses these youth sometimes receive from their families, such as the one lesbian whose mother literally scalped her, removing a chunk of her head, and another gay boy whose father held a gun to the boy’s head and told him to leave the house immediately.  As Carl said, there are two Americas today, and those of us in relatively tolerant states often cannot fathom the degree of hostility which confronts these LGBT kids in other less-tolerant states.

And so we were there, in the Lucille Lortel Theatre, to pay respect to these kids, with performers whose own backgrounds sometimes paralleled the obstacles these at-risk youth face.  Austin Scarlett, from Project Runway, for example, spoke about his years in an Oregon high school whose principal confiscated his more fabulous crinoline confections – to what purpose?  And there was also Mario Cantone reminding us that humor is sometimes the only recourse, and doing a dead-on Faye Dunaway haranguing her Indian cabbie.  And Trai LaTrash singing a beautiful rendition of “Summertime” – and who knew that woman with the white beehive pompadour had such incredible pipes?  She owned that song.  And meanwhile, Edie was Mistress of Ceremonies, showcasing her legginess in her signature “Gotcha.”  The girl has elevation.  And for the theatre queens in the audience, there was Penny Fuller from Applause, from 1970, singing “Something’s Coming,” proving once again that, in New York, you can always find work.  And Da Lippstyxx, that tri-sexual boy band with a girl twist, following in the footsteps of the Scissor Sisters, and making a case for fabulous in the face of hate.  As one of their songs put it, “We’re the ocean, you’re the fish.”  And that’s probably an apt philosophy for attempting to deal with the irrationale hatred so often thrust on us as a community – let our energies be as wide and deep as the ocean.  We encircle the planet.  Without us, they flounder.

There was an after-party too, at Luke and Leroy, scene of Madonna’s first Gotham “surprise” appearance last autumn, and it was packed with little hotties, as well as nibbles, and an open bar, and at one point, the deejay played “Ain’t No Stopping Us Now,” and the kids served it up.  That’s the kind of faith we need now – that our journey as a community keeps us all aloft. 

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