Equality PA Hosts Inaugural PA Society Awards Reception to Present The Bayard Rustin Award & The Pioneering Advocacy Award

Honorees: Broadway stars, Jonathan Groff, star of "Hamilton," a breakaway hit, and Sheryl Lee Ralph, star of the the original "Dreamgirls"

New York, NY – As part of the Pennsylvania Society celebrations, Equality PA hosted an awards reception to present the Bayard Rustin Award & the Pioneering Advocacy award. The reception was hosted at the residence of author of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, John Berendt.

Link to photos from the event: http://equalitypa.org/?p=1788

Equality PA Executive Director, Ted Martin, thanked the awardees, hosts of the event, and acknowledged the board and staff saying, ”Because of your willingness to live your lives authentically, to speak out for fairness and equality, and your hard work to help make sure that our state legislature hears the voices of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community, we have made so much progress in the last few years – more progress on issues like marriage equality than many of us ever imagined. I thank you and implore you to keep up the good work, because we still have plenty of work to do.”


The Bayard Rustin Award: Bayard Rustin, born in West Chester, PA, was an American leader in the civil rights and gay rights movements. He was an advocate for visibility of the community even as many tried to erase his own identity. This award recognizes a Pennsylvanian who is continuing the work to ensure that the LGBT community will be visible, accepted, and celebrated in our society.

The Pioneering Advocacy Award: For too long people in the LGBT community – especially transgender people and people living with HIV and AIDS have been kept in the shadows. However, some people have been shining the light on all of the members of our community for many years, before there was the level of awareness and acceptance that exists today. This award recognizes pioneering work to stand up for people who are on the fringes of society simply because of who they are or who they love.

Jonathan Groff – Recipient of the 2015 Bayard Rustin Award

Jonathan Groff is not only a star of the stage and screen -- he is also a Pennsylvanian. As a successful actor, he is a highly visible role model and activist for the LGBT Community. And in this role, every day, he brings home the strong and resonant message that LGBT people can do anything, be anything, and can live lives of value and worth.

Sheryl Lee Ralph – Recipient of the 2015 Pioneering Advocacy Award

As a popular actor and singer, Sheryl Lee Ralph is also a highly visible role model. She began her advocacy for people with HIV and AIDS in a time when many people were afraid to speak out for fear of being ostracized from society. Her ongoing work with The DIVA Foundation and DIVAS Simply Singing! makes a real difference in people’s lives in the LGBT community. DIVA (Divinely Inspired Victoriously Aids Aware) Foundation and Divas Simply Singing is celebrating 25 years and is the longest consecutive running musical HIV/AIDS benefit in the country.

Host Committee



Equality Pennsylvania:

Equality Pennsylvania is the commonwealth’s leading organization advancing equality and opportunity for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) Pennsylvanians.

As the only equality organization based in Harrisburg — we advocate for policy change at the municipal, state, and federal level; we organize grassroots supporters to engage in the political process; we educate the public about the experiences, values, and needs of LGBT people; and we endorse candidates who are committed to being champions for equality.


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