The 2013 Greater Palm Springs Pride honorees are as diverse as the Coachella Valley’s LGBT community itself. Receiving recognition during the festival in November will be a celebrated photographer, popular author of lesbian fiction, veteran civil servant, and a host of other desert dwellers.
Tom Bianchi will receive one of Pride’s three lifetime achievement awards for his contributions as an activist, artist, writer and photographer specializing in male nudity. The Palm Springs resident started out in New York as a corporate attorney, painting on weekends until he was asked in 1980 to create a one-man show of his artworks. The latter experience “convinced me to tear up my law degree, paste it into a painting and become an artist full time,” he says on tombianchi.com.
Bianchi focused his talent as a photographer following his partner’s death from AIDS in 1988. He’s now largely known for his affectionate, intimate, as well as nude photos of gay men. His most recent book is “Fire Island Pines,” a collection of Polaroids taken between 1975 and 1983 on the gay island getaway.
Women’s rights advocate and Palm Springs City Councilwoman Ginny Foat also will receive a lifetime achievement award. She joined the National Organization for Women (NOW) in 1974, a time when some mainstream feminists considered lesbians more of a hindrance than a help to the movement. She was elected president of California’s NOW chapter seven years later.
Foat and her longtime partner Pam Genevrino moved in 1999 to Palm Springs, where Foat has served as a council member since 2003. She’s seeking re-election two days after Pride festivities.
Author Katherine V. Forrest has been named as another lifetime achievement award recipient. The Lambda Literary Award winner has written more than a dozen works of fiction, including the Kate Delafield mystery series and the lesbian classics “Curious Wine” and “Daughters of a Coral Dawn.”
Forrest lives in Cathedral City.
OTHER PRIDE HONOREES:
Advocate of the Year: Lambda Legal
Spirit of Stonewall Community Service Awards: comedian Shann Carr, and interior and furniture designer Christopher Kennedy
Volunteers of the Year: Michael Green and Stephen Boyd
Spirit of Pride Award: Lucy Debardelaben and Gail Christian
Friend of Pride Award: PFLAG co-presidents Carol and Mike Balasa
Spirit of Stonewall Special Guest: Katy and Sam Wilkerson
PRIDE PARADE COMMUNITY GRAND MARSHALS:
Melanie Jones and Ellen Zimmerman. Jones is a Los Angeles native who marched in her first gay Pride parade in 1980 in San Francisco. She’s an LGBT advocate, community volunteer, and editor of the LSpot lesbian newsletter. Zimmerman, who hails from New York City, has volunteered with numerous organizations since moving to the desert: Palm Springs Opera Guild, Desert Regional Medical Center, Desert AIDS Project and many more.
Business partners Mark Jones and Brian Vatcher of Brighthaus Marketing volunteer their time and talents to many Coachella Valley causes, from spearheading efforts to bring Forever Marilyn to Palm Springs to managing and hosting Tuesday Nite Social Club to co-producing events and raising funds for Desert AIDS Project and other organizations.
Desert Outlook congratulates all of this year’s Pride honorees. Their awards will be presented at 6 p.m. Oct. 4 during an event at the Hyatt Palm Springs, 285 N. Palm Canyon Drive. The Pride festival will take place Nov. 2-3. Learn more at www.pspride.org.