Most Phoenicians have heard that it is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and thousands will have participated in the walks, runs, fashion shows and other events in Phoenix. Not as many Phoenicians recognize that it is, also, LGBT History Month. One of the activities in Phoenix, which celebrates the history of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transsexual individuals is the Spotlight on Success Local Heroes Awards, which was held on October 18, 2013.
The Awards were hosted for the third year by One Community. In a short time, One Community Founder and President Angela Hughey has grown the event to 700 attendees. Over ten individuals and organizations were honored for their support of the LGBT community. The honorees ranged from small businesses, like Community Tire, to media, like Univision, to sports celebrities, like the Mercury’s Brittney Griner.
Attendees also learned about various issues during the luncheon. When Chris Polityka of St Mary’s Food Bank won, the audience learned about the extent of hunger, which persists among children in Arizona. The Unity Pledge, which was started by One Community to ensure equality for all Arizona employees, residents and consumers, now has 750 signatures from Arizona businesses. Awareness will increase, as, with the help of sponsors, One Community will be publishing the first State of LGBT Arizona.
The Change Agent Award has become a very touching part of the Spotlight on Success Awards luncheon. Last year, the audience was touched by Nelda Majors and Karen Bailey, who shared their story of hardship and triumph during a 50+ year relationship. They have since become media darlings and national advocates for gay marriage. This year, the audience was tickled and awed as the 2013 winners--Steve and Roger Ham--told their story of adopting and caring for 14 children through the years.
The trajectory for change of Americans’ attitudes towards the LGBT community has changed dramatically in the past few years, as other organizations, such as the Greater Phoenix Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce and one in 10, which were in attendance, can testify. But there is still a long way to go. For instance, Arizona is one of 29 states in which a person can still be fired for his/her sexual orientation. Advocates are campaigning for a different meaning of “right to work” in Arizona. But the size and scope of the crowd at the Sheraton on Friday indicates the movement is racing forward.