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February 23, 2007

Coleman praises outgoing BRAVO president Cozad

Columbus--Mayor Michael Coleman had words of praise for outgoing BRAVO board president Chris Cozad at the group’s sixth annual “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner” benefit.

“She is making Columbus a better place to live,” Coleman said.

Cozad, who has presided over the board since the Buckeye Region Anti-Violence Organization was founded in 1996, has stepped down. This year’s fundraiser was partly a celebration of her service to the organization where her partner of 25 years, Gloria McCauley, is executive director.

Coleman presented Cozad with a citation of recognition from the city.

He also gave three other citations for service to Columbus and its LGBT community. Bill Hedrick, Brian Shinn and Turning Point, a domestic abuse shelter in central Ohio, were honored for their hours of service and contributions.

The February 24 benefit started off with an evening reception at Smith Brothers featuring a silent auction. Then many of the 100 guests left for private, gourmet dinners at homes in Columbus. The conceit is that nobody knows where he or she will end up for dinner and with whom.

The reception was emceed by drag performer Paige Passion and WCMH Channel 4 newscaster Marshall McPeek. Entertainment was provided by Paige Passion and Ember Swift.

McCauley told the audience of 72-year-old Andrew Anthos, who was beaten February 13 in Detroit after his attackers asked him if he was gay and he answered truthfully. Anthos died the day before the BRAVO benefit (story here).

“He did nothing but be who he was,” McCauley said. “It brings to mind that hate and homophobia are still rampant in our society today. In the future we need less people like him to mourn.”

McCauley also mentioned an outreach campaign through the Internet to take the message of BRAVO to the broader community to eradicate hate.

As in past years, BRAVO gave out two community service awards to “acknowledge and showcase,” McCauley said, “the work that will ultimately lead to equality,” noting that the work often goes unsung.

Shinn was recognized for his work with the Columbus Community Relations Commission advocating for the inclusion of gender identity and civil rights issues.

The second honoree was the Turning Point domestic violence shelter which has supported GLBT victims of violence. Even though Franklin County is outside of Turning Point’s normal service area, BRAVO recognized it for taking in victims from Columbus and anywhere else necessary.

McCauley said that BRAVO hoped the benefit would raise between $15,000 and $20,000 towards the work they have to do in the community.

Coleman, who has announced his run for re-election, ended his address by saying, “Move on. Move up. And continue to make Columbus the best place to live in America.” 




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