Silver State Equality, Nevada’s statewide LGBTQ+ civil rights organization, will honor Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award winner Dionne Warwick (Ally Leadership Award), Nevada State Senator Dr. Pat Spearman (Equality Leadership Award) and Washoe County School District Students for Change (Community Leadership Award) at the organization’s virtual Silver State Equality Awards.
The Awards will be hosted by singer, comedian and entertainer Mikalah Gordon, who grew up in Las Vegas, and feature musical performances by American Music Award-winning R&B group En Vogue, country singer Brandon Stansell and Las Vegas singer-songwriter Shamir. Chef and Food Network personality Giada De Laurentiis, actress Alyssa Milano, magician Mat Franco and drag performers Vanessa Vanjie Mateo and Coco Montrese will make special guest appearances throughout the evening.
“Dionne Warwick is not only a legendary and iconic singer, actress and television host; she’s also an incredible HIV/AIDS activist and a dedicated ally to our LGBTQ+ community,” said Silver State Equality State Director André C. Wade. “Senator Spearman has similarly blazed important trails, as a minister, as a lieutenant colonel in the United States Army and as the first openly LGBTQ+ woman to serve in the Nevada Legislature. And the Washoe County Students for Change stand on both of these prolific giants’ shoulders, representing the next generation of pro-equality leaders and their courage and commitment to a world that is healthy, just and fully equal for all LGBTQ+ people. This year has been unbelievably trying for our community and for our state — but with the most consequential election just weeks away, it’s important to come together, celebrate the progress we have made and fight for a brighter future.”
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In one of the most extraordinary examples of staying power the music industry has ever known, five-time Grammy Award-winning music legend, Dionne Warwick continues to regale audiences internationally. From the
early 1960’s on, her iconic sound set the bar in American pop music by earning more than 60 charted hit songs and selling over 100 million records. Once teamed with renowned songwriters, Burt Bacharach and Hal David, her first major release in 1962, “Don’t Make Me Over”, kicked off 18 more consecutive Top 100 singles. A few of her chart-toppers include, “Walk on By,” “Anyone Who Had a Heart,” “Message to Michael,” “Promises Promises,” “A House is Not a Home,” “Alfie,” “Say a Little Prayer,” and “I’ll Never Fall in Love Again.” After 30 hits, and close to 20 best-selling albums, Warwick received her first Grammy Award in 1968 for, “Do You Know the Way to San Jose?” Warwick has done more than entertain the world; as a humanitarian, she has been a leading advocate on behalf of people living with HIV and AIDS in the United States and around the world.
For 29 years, Senator Dr. Pat Spearman served in the U.S. Army; from Ft. McClellan, Alabama in her first assignment, to the Pentagon as a member of the Army Operations Center, ascending to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel, earning several military awards. In 2008, as a church pastor, Spearman led community efforts to increase voter registration and participation across Nevada as a volunteer with Obama For America. After seeing disparities in education, the impact of the 2008 recession and the impact of laws that discriminated against the LGBTQ+ community, Dr. Spearman ran to represent Nevada’s 1st Senate District in 2012 and won, becoming the state’s first openly LGBTQ+ woman to serve in the Nevada Legislature.
Founded by recent Galena High School graduate Isabel Peralta over the summer, Washoe County School District Students for Change was formed after Peralta sent out a tweet asking if any other students would be interested in organizing to make change in their school district. They advocate for a reversal of the school board’s policy that prohibits teachers from fully identifying with and supporting the LGBTQ community and movements like Black Lives Matter; a re-evaluation of the district’s hiring policies and practices to be more diverse; and an implementation of a history and social studies curricula that is inclusive of LGBTQ+ information, as well as major events like the Stonewall riots, Juneteenth and the Tulsa Massacre. WCSD Students for Change are organized, motivated and focused and are pursuing many paths of action to combat racism, homophobia and transphobia, including speaking up at school board meetings and legislative solutions.
Last year’s inaugural awards honored award-winning singer-songwriter-dancer Paula Abdul and Nevada State Senator David Parks (D-Las Vegas).
Silver State Equality is led by State Director André C. Wade and a diverse board of Nevadans from across the state who are committed to the fight for LGBTQ+ civil rights and social justice. Silver State Equality is affiliated with and supported by Equality California and Equality California Institute, which together comprise the nation’s largest statewide LGBTQ+ civil rights organization. Silver State Equality is committed to fighting for LGBTQ+ civil rights and social justice by helping to elect pro-equality candidates; passing pro-equality legislation in Carson City and Washington, DC; advancing LGBTQ+ civil rights and social justice in the courtroom; and reducing disparities in LGBTQ+ health and well-being through education and advocacy programs.