They said it couldn’t be done…
They said no one would come…
They said no one cared…
They said a lot of things, but on Saturday, November 25 in the wonderful city of Atlanta, the nation’s leading Black gay magazine Clik did successfully hold their first annual Elite 25 Awards ceremony, and there wasn’t an empty seat in the house.
How about that?
Never in my life would I have imagined that I’d have been a room with Phill Wilson, Kevin Aviance, Keith Boykin, Nathan Williams, Patrik Polk, Rodney Chester, Rudy Carns, Harmonica Sunbeam, E. Lynn Harris, Joe Hawkins, Lisa C. Moore, J.L. King, Cambridge Mayor Ken Reeves, Duane Cramer, Alexander Robinson, Jeffrey King, Deondray Gossett, Quincy LeNear, Rashid Darden, and the list goes on.
But it did happened and they did come, which in itself is a feat to be acknowledged.
Black lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people gathered together to celebrate their own and to honor achievements made in media, arts and entertainment, politics, and activism.
Held at the Fabulous Fox Theatre in the heart of Atlanta, Dwight Powell, Editor and Chief of Clik Magazine, the leading magazine for Black gays, fulfilled a dream that he had which was to honor those in the community who have given so much of themselves.
One fact that was repeated over and over throughout the evening was how much an event like this had been missing in our community. Every honoree humbly accepted their award and paid homage to those who had inspired them to do what they do.
For me, I was very moved when Keith Boykin accepted his award and turned to his partner Nathan Williams and told him that he was the wind beneath his wings and he couldn’t do what he did without his support. Love.
Also very moving was when filmmakers Deondray Gossett and Quincy LeNear told the crowd how much Patrik Polk had inspired them to create the DL Chronicles and the support that they had received from him and fellow filmmaker Maurice Jamal. Respect.
And I almost cried when Rashid Darden accepted his award for Best in Literature and turned to E. Lynn Harris and told him how he was his inspiration and how he was so happy to be able to tell him that face to face. Honor.
I had the pleasure of presenting the Icon Awards to Unity Fellowship Church Movement founder Archbishop Carl Bean, publishing pioneer Alan Bell, and Atlanta nightclub promoter Traxx.
Co-hosted by Noah’s Arc’s Rodney Chester and performer Harmonica Sunbeam, believe me when I tell you they kept us all laughing. I think Rodney changed outfits 20 times in 90 minutes and Harmonica was simply Harmonica.
Kevin Aviance also moved the crowd when he accepted his award and told us that this is who he is and that if they want to beat him up for being him then bring it on because he’s not going to change.
One thing that rung absolute was the need for us to continue to honor each other for the work that we do and not to depend on others to do it for us.
AIDS activists Phill Wilson and Rudy Carns reminded us that AIDS is still an issue for Black America and Black gay America and that we have to do our part.
Yours truly walked away with the Community Advocacy Award and I humbly accepted my award for Tyron Garner, Michael Sandy, Sakia Gunn, and Willi Ninja. Thank you to everyone who voted for me. When the work I do ceases to be relevant to you then and only then will I stop, but until then…
I have to admit that with all of the hugging and kissing there was hardly time to take photos of everything and so I am posting photos that have been emailed to me by other people and will continue to update the photo gallery as photos come in.
Special thanks to Delta Airlines and all of the sponsors for Saturday’s event. I know how hard it is to explain to potential sponsors that there is viability in supporting the Black gay community and Dwight has been relentless in communicating that message. Job well done!
Dwight, I love you and congratulations! Congratulations to all of the winners and let’s do this again next year.
The 2006 Clik Magazine Elite Winners List
John Campbell (New Jersey)
Jasmyne CannicK (Los Angeles)
Rudolph Carns (Atlanta)
Joe Hawkins (Oakland)
Phill Wilson (Los Angeles)
Rev. Antonio Jones (Atlanta)
ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT
Patrik-Ian Polk (Los Angeles)
Wilson Cruz (Los Angeles)
Rodney Chester (Los Angeles)
Maurice Jamal (New York)
Quincy LeNear & Deondray Gossett (Los Angeles)
Rashid Darden (Washington D.C.)
E. Lynn Harris (Little Rock)
Kevin Aviance (New York)
Billy Porter (New York)
Raquel Lord (Atlanta)
Sophia McIntosh (Atlanta)
Ramon Johnson (New York)
Lisa C. Moore (Washington D.C.)
Dwight Powell (Atlanta)
Duane Cramer (San Francisco)
Ric Rollins (Tampa)
Keith Boykin (New York)
Hon. Ken Reeves (Cambridge)
Alexander Robinson (Washington D.C.)
Dr. David Melbranche (Atlanta)
Archbishop Carl Bean – Founder of Unity Fellowship Church Movement (Los Angeles)
Alan Bell – Publishing Pioneer (Los Angeles)
Traxx Atlanta – Nightclub Promoter (Atlanta)