Vote for the AT&T Bold Honor Today!
The “AT&T Bold Honor” recognizes an everyday individual in the lesbian, gay, bisexual
and transgender (LGBT)
community who has made a difference during the past year. As part of
NYC Pride Week, they are celebrating nominees who have been bold in the
NYC LGBT community (including Ross D. Levi, left).
The Bold Honor winner will be selected from a combination of online vote totals and the total votes cast at the Here Media New York Pride Party on June 22. The winner will be announced the week of July 5th.
Read the bios, then vote for your choice! Want to nominate someone else? Leave a comment below!
THE POLL HAS BEEN CLOSED—THANK YOU FOR VOTING. WE WILL LIST THE WINNER THIS WEEK!
Read about them here or
Download the PDF.
Rev. Carmen Hernandez
Founder and President, NYC LGBT Chamber of Commerce
Rev Carmen Hernandez, was born in Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico On April 28, 1963. At the age 6 month old she move to NYC and has live in the Bronx ever since. She has nine brothers & sisters from her mother side she is the oldest from the girls, five brothers and four sisters. And from her father side she has another nine siblings. She is the EO/Founder/Outreach/Pastor, Stratford Community Services, Inc. As an advocate/Activist in the Soundview section of the Bronx for the past 28 years, Rev. Carmen Hernandez has helped empower at risk inner city kids. Through her efforts and a list of activities that specifically target youth, Rev. Carmen has proved to be a vital part of the South East Bronx community. Rev. Carmen Hernandez has also coordinated Stratford Annual Back 2 School Jam Block Parties for two decades and is President/Founder/Youth Community Pastor of The Stratford Community Services, Inc. (Giving Kids/Youth a Chance).
Rev. Carmen Hernandez slowly met and organized small business owners, persuading each business and community to work together as one family. Rev. Carmen carefully realized that the future of our community much depended on building a stronger business outlook and saw the need to empower small business owners to create a positive environment in the neighborhood. Rev. Carmen also helped to build other organizations, such as helping build the Bronx Christmas Parade and is currently working toward 1st Macys Thanksgiving Parade in the Bronx. Ten years ago Rev. Carmen Hernandez co-founded and was the Senior Vice President of the Bronx Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Inc. And then had a very important role as co founder, of the Latin Hip Hop Summit at Lehman College, with Mr. Russell Simmons.
Rev. Carmen Hernandez is most commonly known for making something out of nothing. She is currently the President/Founder of the 1st NYC LGBT Chamber of Commerce, Inc., as well as, one of the original Founders President/Chairperson of Warrior4Luv Productions, Inc., an online music store as well as an online booking and Promotion Company.
Ross D. Levi
Executive Director, Empire State Pride Agenda
Ross D. Levi is the Executive Director of the Empire State Pride Agenda and Foundation, New York’s statewide civil rights organization committed to achieving equality and justice for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) New Yorkers and our families. Splitting his time between Albany and New York City, Ross oversees the Pride Agenda, Inc.’s legislative and political activities, as well as the education and community organizing work of the Empire State Pride Agenda Foundation. The Pride Agenda is New York’s largest statewide LGBT civil rights organization with an almost $4 million budget and 25 full-time staff.
Ross was named Executive Director in May of 2010. Prior to that, he served as the Pride Agenda’s Legislative Counsel from 2000 to 2003 and Director of Public Policy and Governmental Affairs from 2004 to 2006, when he oversaw and conducted the organization’s lobbying activities; and as Director of Public Policy & Education from 2007 to 2010, when he was responsible for developing the organization’s policy priorities and public positions, and for the creation and maintenance of educational materials and programs.
Ross has been directly involved in every state legislative victory ever achieved by the Pride Agenda, including statewide measures like: the Sexual Orientation Non-Discrimination Act; the Hate Crimes Act of 2000; making the state’s 9/11 relief inclusive of same-sex couples; guaranteeing domestic partners hospital visitation, legal authority over a loved one’s bodily remains, access to Family Court and medical decision making authority; and securing over $50 million of funding for LGBT health and human services. Ross was also part of the passage of many other state and local ordinances, regulations and Executive Orders affecting New York’s LGBT community, including the prohibition of discrimination on the basis of gender identity and expression in state employment.
Before joining the Pride Agenda, Ross was Legislative Director for New York State Senator Nellie Santiago of Brooklyn. He began his work in state government in 1997 with a New York State Senate Fellowship. While completing his law degree, he was a legal intern with Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, the Office of Manhattan Borough President Ruth Messinger, Judge David Trager of the Eastern District of New York and the Civil Rights Committee of the Association of the Bar of the City of New York.
Director New York Trans Rights Organization; Co-Chair, National Stonewall Democrats
Melissa Sklarz became the first transgender person elected to office in New York in 1999 when she was elected Judicial Delegate from the 66th Assembly District. In 2004, Melissa became the first transgender person from New York to be part of the state delegation at the Democratic National Convention, by being appointed to the Credentials Committee and again on the Rules Committee in 2008.
She helped bring civil rights to transgender people in New York City when INT 24 became law in 2002 and has been a lobbying leader for GENDA (Gender Expression Non Discrimination Act.
Melissa is a past president of Gay & Lesbian Ind. Democrats, and is now a vice president of Stonewall Democratic Club of New York. After serving on the board for the past 8 years, she is now the co-chair of the Board of Directors of National Stonewall Democrats.
In 2008, Melissa was a co-chair for Obama Pride NYC, helping to organize the LGBT community for the campaign and was one of 250 activists invited to the White House in June 2009 to celebrate the Stonewall Rebellion.
In 2010, Melissa was at the side of Governor Paterson when he announced an executive order protecting the rights of transgender people employed by New York State.
Melissa had a featured role in the film Transamerica.
Supervising Organizer, Make the Road New York
Irene Tung is a co-founder of Q-Wave, a group to support queer Asian and Pacific Islander women and trans people. In 2010, she organized the first-ever queer contingent in the Chinatown Lunar New Year Parade. Hundreds of queer people and straight allies participated. The effort was widely covered by Asian-language and English-language local, national and international press.
Since 2005, she has worked at Make the Road New York, a membership-based organization that that works for social and economic justice where she has served as both Director of Organizing and Supervising Organizer. In that capacity, she co-authored the report, Transgender Need Not Apply and coordinated a successful effort to combat gender identity employment discrimination at clothing retailer American Eagle Outfitters. As a result, in April 2010, American Eagle Outfitters signed a settlement with the New York State Attorney General committing to far-reaching policy changes affecting 61 stores and more than 2,000 employees in New York State. These changes will include mandatory training on gender identity and expression, and targeted recruitment and hiring of transgender and gender non-conforming workers.
At Make the Road New York, she helped to establish the now annual Bushwick Pride and Solidarity March, in which hundreds of people participate each year. She has also worked with local high schools to implement policies and practices to combat homophobia and transphobia.
In 2007 and 2008, Irene traveled to China to provided technical assistance to lesbian, bi-sexual and transgender organizations.
New York Gay Activist
The diminutive crusader got his start as an activist in the early 1980s when he came out as gay and got involved in the rights group Act-Up. "He came out of the closet like a cannon-ball," said author Betty Adelsen, who profiled Wieder in her 2005 book, "The Lives of Dwarves: Their Journey From Public Curiosity Toward Social Liberation."
In the following years. Wieder became a fixture at community board meetings, rallies and all sorts of political events, where he became well known to the city’s political players.
"He was everywhere and involved in so many different things," said City Council Speaker Christine Quinn. "He was undaunted by his physical challenges. I never heard Harry say, ‘I can’t do that, that march is too long.’"
"Harry was a small person but he was a very big personality. He had a big voice and a very colorful character," said Anne Emmerman, the former commissioner of the department of the aging during the Dinkins Administration.
Wieder, the child of Holocaust survivors, was born in 1953 with achondraplasia – a kind of dwarfism — and was raised in Forest Hills. In the early 1980s he underwent surgery on his spine that left him walking with crutches or using a wheelchair for the rest of his life. He also suffered significant hearing loss and lived in a home for the deaf on the Lower East Side.
But he never let his troubles stop him from being involved.
"Harry was so dedicated and he showed up to a lot of the meetings even if he wasn’t on the committee," said Community Board 3 chairman Dominck Pisciotta. "He was the ultimate activist. He cared a lot about the community and many different issues as well."
Harry Wieder, the New York LGBT activist and self-described "disabled, gay, Jewish, leftist, middle aged dwarf who ambulates with crutches," died April 27, 2010 when a taxi cab struck him while he was crossing the street after leaving a community board meeting. He was 57.
THE POLL HAS BEEN CLOSED—THANK YOU FOR VOTING. WE WILL LIST THE WINNER THIS WEEK!