Columbus--�My feet still haven�t touched the ground,� Mary Jo Hudson told Stonewall Columbus supporters about her election victory last week.
Hudson was the keynote speaker at the group�s annual �A Night Out� benefit on November 12. Four days earlier, she was elected to the Columbus City Council seat she has held by appointment since September, 2004.
�I feel like I am in a mosh pit,� she joked. She thanked the audience profusely, saying, �It could not have happened without you.�
Hudson said that although last year was �awful� with the passage of an Ohio anti-marriage law and constitutional amendment, there was hope in the future.
�Five openly gay candidates have been elected to office across Ohio this year,� she said. �While we are making history, we�ve only just begun.�
She urged all GLBT groups to work together and to �step over all the egos that are dividing us.�
�We need to learn how to raise money, and how to be nimble and tenacious� against opponents who are growing stronger and often changing their tactics, she said.
Hudson said that Stonewall �has to stay open, it needs to stay open.� She urged those present to give money and �to do whatever you have to do to seek the change you want in the world.�
�Don�t sit on the sidelines,� she concluded. �Be a part of history.�
The evening, held at Two Miranova Place, was emceed by Kate Burdett of WBNS 97.1 FM and Kellye Pinkleton, the interim executive director of Stonewall Columbus.
Pinkleton, who replaced Kate Anderson after her departure eight months ago, praised the 500 volunteers who help keep Stonewall running despite a reduction in resources this past year. She also lauded the �amazing board of directors� who helped keep things moving smoothly this past year where the organization went through a lot of �soul searching.�
The event was also a time for Stonewall to honor community leaders and GLBT individuals who work towards the betterment of the community.
The Stonewall Volunteer Service Award this year went to Jim Hammond, a senior at the Ohio State University. The other nominees for the award were Warren Stephenson, a volunteer for four years, and Lori Boldman, who contributes to organizations like BRAVO and CATF in addition to Stonewall Columbus.
Chris Hayes, the editor of Outlook Weekly won the Media Award. Other nominees were the evening�s co-emcee Burdett and Colleen Marshall of WCMH Channel 4.
The Community Service Award is given to an organization which has made a significant contribution to the quality of life for the GLBT community. It went to the Kaleidoscope Youth Center, over fellow nominees Equality Ohio and the Columbus National Gay and Lesbian Theatre Festival.
Kaleidoscope executive director Angie Wellman accepted the award on behalf of the organization.
The Leadership Award, which honors exceptional leadership in the GLBT community, went to Don Laufersweller, a counselor who is also very active with the Ohio AIDS Coalition. Cheri Meyers of SpeakOut, Stonewall�s GLBT ally arm, and Bill Hedrick, a local lawyer and activist were the other nominees for this award.
The final award of the evening, the Rhonda Rivera Human Rights Award was given to longtime activist Lynn Greer. The award, named after another longtime activist, is the biggest one of the evening, recognizing a lifetime of service to the GLBT community. Greer was the only award winner who spoke.
�Rhonda was my mentor,� she said, expressing her gratitude for the award and praising fellow nominee Cozad for all her work for many years in the Columbus GLBT community.
Other nominees for the Rivera award were Chris Cozad of BRAVO and Lynne Bowman of Equality Ohio.
In addition to the awards ceremony, the event included live music by the Arnett Howard Trio, gourmet food provided by the renowned Cameron Mitchells, and a silent auction of products, art and other fun items.
The evening, which brought out approximately 400 guests, helped raise $35,000 for Stonewall Columbus, according to Stonewall operations director Michael Dutcher, who organized it. He said that the larger numbers this year were due to great volunteer contributions, bigger sponsorships and a larger marketing push.
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