President Donald Trump and his new administration’s policies were front and center at the gala dinner from the LGBT Community Center of New York. When former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is the night’s marquee honoree, the event it bound to get a little political.
“We may need to face the fact that we may never be able to count on this administration to lead on LGBTQ issues,” Clinton told the gala’s attendees Thursday night. “We need to dedicate these next years to supporting these organizations advocating for the best of American values around the world and here at home, and we have to win elections to make it clear where our community stands.”
The annual fundraiser for the non-profit, which supports the LGBTQ community and youth around New York City, was hosted Thursday night at the Cipriani Wall Street. Clinton was honored for her support of the gay and transgender community with the Trailblazer Award along with American fashion designer Marc Jacobs, who took home the Visionary Award.
Clinton was among friends, with activists Edie Windsor and New York Rep. Sean Maloney on hand, along with members of the fashion world like Barney’s Simon Doonan and Victoria’s Secret model Sara Sampaio.
Clinton had initially visited the non-profit, known around the city as The Center, on the campaign trail in 2016. She blasted the Trump administration for choosing Senator Mark Green, a transgender critic, to replace Army Secretary Eric Fanning, who was the first openly gay man to hold the position. Clinton questioned the decision to roll back protections for transgender youth, saying the move “broke her heart” for parents and young people alike. She also called on the administration to stand up for LGBT rights in Chechnya, where accounts of gay men being tortured have been reported.
“I know the election hit a lot of us hard,” Clinton joked on stage of her loss in November. “But I can tell you this: even when it feels temping to pull the covers over your heads, please keep going. Please remember how we got to this point. I’ve had a new mantra these last few weeks: resist, insist, persist, and enlist.”
Huffington Post founder Arianna Huffington introduced Clinton, and didn’t keep quiet about her displeasure with the Trump administration.
“We’re only in the first 100 days of this administration, but a lot of very regressive elements have been stirred up in every area. We need people fighting for human rights, whether it’s vulnerable families and children or LGBTQ rights,” Huffington told Variety.
The Center, founded in 1983 at the height of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, has been recognized for successfully supporting policies benefitting its community around the country. Executive director Glennda Testone said the Center was launching a new advocacy initiative aimed at getting information out to supporters and calling on them to get involved, making calls to Congress, and more.
Lana Wachowski, director of “Cloud Atlas” and “The Matrix,” introduced Jacobs. “You’d hope that the majority of America has moved beyond a lot of this kind of hate and disrespect and fear of otherness, and [Trump] just keeps trying to pull us back towards these things,” she said of Trump’s first 100 days in office. “It doesn’t feel like it’s the best America or a version of a great America.”
Wachowski, a transgender woman, said despite the “despicable” administration, she did see glimmers of hope. “We were discussing [on the way over here] the galvanizing power of a crisis. I don’t think I’ve seen so many of my friends politicized and really actively politicized,” she added.
The Center also honored ADP CFO Jan Siegmund with the Corporate Impact Award. Carmelyn Malalis, chair of the New York City Commission on Human Rights, received the Community Impact Award.