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Cipriani, New York City
by Mark Thompson & Robert Doyle
December 7, 2005 Bookmark and Share

So last night as the hoi polloi and the papparazzi battled it out with Evander Holyfield and posse at the newly-reopened-yet-again-Sound Factory-now-called–Pacha-nightclub—

Meanwhile, down at Cipriani at 55 Wall Street in the soaring 1830 Greek Revival ballroom of what was at one time the New York Stock Exchange and the US Customs House (as well as the site of Liza's infamous wedding reception with her soon-to-be-battered husband), the moneyed gays were out in force. The Four Hundred, as Ward McAllister once called New York's moneyed set, back in the days when blue blood really meant something. Four or six hundred gay boyz and girlz, sporting their best Gucci and Prada and showing their support for the Hetrick-Martin Institute at the 19th annual Emery Awards, where Senator Hillary Clinton, to a thunderous standing o, handed out an award to Dr. Christopher Barley, the tireless and generous health policy advocate, and where Melissa Etheridge was honored in absentia, and where one of the most touching moments of a lump-throated evening came when Maya Keyes, the 20-year-old lesbian activist daughter of conservative Republican commentator Alan Keyes of Illinois (who recently, thanks be to intelligent Illinoisans, lost his bid for a Senate seat), accepted her award and told of becoming homeless once her parents disowned her for publicly coming out, and where David Mensah, executive director of HMI, spoke eloquently and passionately about the at-risk kids of HMI and of the three transgendered youth of HMI who were murdered this past year, and how he was not merely saddened, but enraged, and where Mario Cantone was a manic and maniacal auctioneer, selling a dinner with Hilary Swank for $11,000, and where Levi's was the evening’s presenting sponsor, therefore enabling all sorts of preening from an army corps of male models in Levi's latest E-for-Education brand jeans, and where a video presentation by Levi's made clear the company's long and ongoing history of openness and tolerance, for example, in hiring women and blacks when no one else was doing so, as well as its most recent stand to protect genetics, given the increasing number of studies that contend our sexuality might be innate and not learned -- and through all this emotion and with the kids of HMI periodically speaking about their dreams and hopes, the bellinis flowed and the boyz in Gucci and Versace swayed and sashayed through the candlelit ballroom, the mahogany doors of the men's stalls slamming in their wake, before they emerged again, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed -- and yes, there was swag, a full 2.7 ounce bottle of Marc Jacobs latest cologne for men and CDs from A/X and backpacks from Levi's latest RIP collection and candles from D.L and Co. and at various points throughout the night, it was incredible to stare up at the 70-foot Wedgewood-domed ceiling, framed by those massive and monolithic Corinthian columns, the wine flowing freely on tables laden with silver salvers of pastries and chocolates, and to feel how far we, as a community, have come in the less than thirty years that HMI has been offering a safe place for GLBT youth to be educated, and how now there are gay-straight alliances in thousands of secondary schools across America – and yet also to realize how much further we have to go. One thing's for sure: to see such determination and resolve in the gay youth who surrounded us last night is to see hope for our future. Let it be so.

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