Advancing LGBT Civil Rights

Equality Forum 2019 Awards Celebration

Sunday, September 29, 12:00 pm - 1:45 pm
Mellon Center, 48th Floor
1735 Market Street


The Frank Kameny Award is named for the father of the LGBT civil rights movement. With Barbara Gittings, he organized the Annual Reminders at Independence Hall each July 4th from 1965 to 1969; led the fight to overturn Eisenhower's Executive Order 10450, which prohibited the employment of gays and lesbians by the federal government; and helped eliminate the American Psychiatric Association's classification of homosexuality as a mental illness. Kameny's archives are in the Smithsonian and Library of Congress.


Single Tickets: $100

Equality Sponsor: $5,000 includes 10 tickets, event and promotion recognition.

Salute Sponsor: $7,500 includes 10 tickets, event and promotion recognition and sponsor of Sherenté Harris performance.

Collegian Sponsor: $10,000 includes 10 tickets, event and promotion recognition and sponsor of 50 LGBTQ collegians and youth attending the event.

Frank Kameny Sponsor: $15,000 includes 20 tickets, event and promotion recognition and sponsor of Frank Kameny Award.

Event Sponsor: $20,000 includes 20 tickets, event and promotion recognition with sponsor's representative delivering remarks.

Sponsored by:



Ballard Spahr

The Philadelphia Foundation


Drinker Biddle


Mel Heifetz (Recipient of the Frank Kameny Award)
LGBTQ Activist & Philanthropist

Mel Heifetz is a longtime LGBTQ activist and supporter of liberal political causes on the national and local levels. His more recent contributions include a $16 million gift that will expand the GLBT Fund of America, an endowed donor-advised fund at The Philadelphia Foundation, and work with Project HOME to provide LGBTQ-friendly affordable housing for homeless and at-risk young adults, including those aging out of foster care. In 2005 he paid off the mortgage of the William Way LGBT Community Center.

During his career, Heifetz has built several successful residential and hospitality businesses, including The Alexander Inn, Philadelphia's first gay hotel. He has owned three of the most prominent gay and lesbian bars in Philadelphia along with hotel and bar properties in Key West, Florida. In 2018 Heifetz received The Philadelphia Award for his activism.

Sherenté Harris (Performer)
Native American Youth Leader & Dancer

A member of the Narragansett Indian Tribe, Sherenté Harris is a Two-Spirit youth leader, activist, and champion powwow dancer. An advocate for Indian visibility and positive cultural change through the arts, Harris has overcome discrimination to break down gender barriers in traditional dance.

In indigenous communities, the term Two Spirit describes nonbinary gender and sexuality. After coming out as Two Spirit, Harris embraced his identity by dancing in the style otherwise performed only by women. After facing multiple hurdles and harsh pushback from judges, Harris went on to earn top prizes in competition.

S/he is studying for a dual degree at Brown University and the Rhode Island School of Design. Harris is a 2019 LGBT History Month Icon.

Malcolm Lazin (Master of Ceremonies)
Executive Director
Equality Forum

Malcolm Lazin is the executive director of Equality Forum and the founder of LGBT History Month. Previously a federal prosecutor, he received the U.S. Attorney General’s Distinguished Service Award and subsequently served as the chair of the Pennsylvania Crime Commission.

Lazin is credited with the lighting of the Benjamin Franklin Bridge, which connects Philadelphia with Camden, New Jersey. He also successfully led a nearly two-decades-long campaign to make Washington Square (in Philadelphia), the largest Revolutionary War burial site, part of Independence National Historical Park. Lazin is the recipient of numerous local, state, and national community service and civil rights awards.

Mary Gay Scanlon (Special Guest)
Pennsylvania, 5th District

Mary Gay Scanlon is a Democratic congresswoman representing Pennsylvania’s 5th District. Her legislative priorities include voting rights, education, common sense gun safety, and protecting the rights of children, families, veterans, and seniors. She serves as vice chair of the House Judiciary Committee, the House Rules Committee, and the House Select Committee on the  Modernization of Congress. Previously, she served as national pro bono counsel for a major U.S. law firm, where she supervised hundreds of lawyers providing more than 50,000 hours annually of free services to low-income clients and nonprofit organizations. Under her leadership, the program earned the 2018 American Bar Association’s annual pro bono award.

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