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OutFront Minnesota Announces LGBTQ Gala Award Winners

Contact: Jean Heyer




November 2, 2015 Minneapolis – On Saturday, November 21, OutFront Minnesota will honor six award winners who are champions of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer  (LGBTQ) equity. The awards will be presented at International Market Square during the stage program at OutFront’s Annual Gala: Dare to Be Powerful.


This year’s theme is inspired by the iconic words of Audre Lorde:

“When I dare to be powerful, to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid.”


The OutFront Minnesota Awards recognize the accomplishments of outstanding individuals who dare to be powerful and, as a result, advance the movement for LGBTQ equity in Minnesota.


Beth Zemsky Legacy Award Winner for long-term commitment to equity for LGBTQ Minnesotans.


Beth Zemsky has been a leader in the LGBTQ movement locally and nationally for 35 years. She was an OutFront Minnesota staff member from 1989-1993 and went on to serve as the founding director of the University of Minnesota GLBTA Program Office. She currently works as a consultant specializing in intercultural organizational development. A long-time Board Member of the National LGBTQ Task Force, Beth's range of experience as an organizer, psychotherapist, trainer, and mentor have led to her supporting the growth and development of countless people and organizations, LGBTQ and beyond. Recently, her movement building work caught the eye of the international world and she has traveled to share her story and the story of LGBTQ Movement Building in the United States with people abroad. Her legacy of leadership is a misnomer because she has so much more to give. In addition to being a brilliant intersectional movement builder, thinker and strategist, she is funny, generous, kind and deeply rooted in justice.


Lena K. Gardner - Innovator Award Winner for using new and innovative strategies to organize & engage community members to advance equity for all LGBTQ Minnesotans.


Lena K. Gardner, a queer Black woman and long time OutFront supporter, has helped lead Black Lives Matter Minneapolis into amazing intersectional organizing. She has brought together thousands of people from across our state to demand justice for Black Minnesotans while organizing to include diverse people across race, religion, sexuality and gender identities. Lena's vision and gift for creating deep relationships has fostered a movement for racial justice that has space for LGBTQ people, people of faith and allies. Lena draws connections and parallels between racial, economic, gender, and sexuality oppression that allows communities to come together to demand change. In her paid work, Lena is a development leader for an online Unitarian Universalist congregation, the Church of the Larger Fellowship, faith without walls.


Parker Breza – Visionary Award Winner for making a significant impact in helping OutFront Minnesota advance its mission and vision


Parker Breza is an exceptional young activist. He has been very busy the past few years affecting change with Minnesota DFL and a number of progressive campaigns. As an intern at OutFront, Parker played a key leadership role in the Youth Summit; facilitated many trainings; led phone banks; and engaged hundreds of Minnesotans in LGBTQ equity issues. During his senior year at Benilde St. Margaret, he was one of several youth leaders who created the LGBTQ Catholic Youth Summit. This monumental event brought together more than 200 members of the Catholic Church and LGBTQ students to engage in a discussion about making the Catholic Church a more welcoming and affirming place for LGBTQ young people. Parker is currently a first year at Tufts University where he was recently elected LGBTQ rep for student government.


For the second year in a row, OutFront is honoring several young people with a Courage Award for speaking up for LGBTQ equity.


·       Ema Santibañez nine-year-old, fourth grade girl, who identifies as transgender, testified at a St. Paul Public School Board meeting this past winter in support of the Gender Inclusion policy;

·      George Yocom, a 12-year-old, seventh grade boy, who identifies as transgender, bravely spoke at a Minnesota State High School League Board meeting last December in a room with more than 150 people, many of whom were conservative members of the opposition. In the past year, George also co-hosted a panel at OutFront’s Youth Summit; shared his story in a Star Tribune article about fighting for health care access as a young trans person; and participated in an hour-long MPR radio interview about trans youth. He is currently co-leader of his middle school GSA

·       Holly Montemayor, a 17-year-old junior in high school, who identifies as transgender, spoke in front of several hundred people at OutFront’s LGBTQ Lobby Day at the Capitol in April. She also spoke in support the gender inclusion policy at a St. Paul Public School Board meeting earlier this year.


The stage program at OutFront Minnesota’s gala will feature Emmy Award winning actor, vocalist, arts educator and community organizer T. Mychael Rambo as emcee. There will also be a dance party with a DJ, a fabulous silent auction and delectable heavy appetizers.

 For more information, please visit: outfront.org/gala

About OutFront Minnesota

OutFront Minnesota’s is the state’s leading LGBTQ organization. Our mission is to create a state where lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people are free to be who they are, love who they love, and live without fear of violence, harassment or discrimination. We deliver programs and services to Minnesota's LGBTQ and allied communities in the areas of community organizing, public policy, anti-violence and crime victim services, law and education and training.  We work with more than 70,000 champions of equality to create positive change in our communities, places of worship, schools, workplaces, and state and local government.



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