- Dedicated to winning equality and justice for lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans-gender New Yorkers and their families, on July 11 the Empire State Pride Agenda
celebrated their 17th Annual Hamptons Tea Dance
with an overflow crowd that included the governor of the Empire State himself, David Paterson,
and United States Senator Kristen Gillibrand
Hamptons Tea Dance hosts Juan Granados and Will Trinkle.
Hosted again this year at the home of Will Trinkle
and Juan Granados
, the turn-out for the event was nothing short of overwhelming, as although the event was sold out days earlier, almost 500 walk-up, day of sale supporters, who could no longer purchase tickets online, flooded into the celebration.
Governor Paterson's support was clearly much more than a photo op, as he arrived in the last hour of the event after most of the press was long gone. Hamptons.com asked the governor to comment on the importance of events like this as an effort to further the equal rights goals of New York's gay community, "This is a social event, but it is an event at a time when the networking between the people here can help to pass marriage equality, which I have believed in for the last 15 years. Probably would have been longer than that, but nobody asked me until 15 years ago."
DJ Diva Lady Bunny.
The governor went on to comment about the optimistic spirit that permeated the event despite the recent Albany deadlock, commenting, "People here are excited. I think they recognize that their rights were probably taken away from them by some senators who put politics over the interests of the people. But now that we have them back, they seem gracious and willing to let us re-organize and go back up there and make that happen. 2009 will be the year of marriage equality."
Pressing the governor on his optimism that 2009 would indeed be the year that gay marriage finally becomes legal in New York State, he stated "I think it is going to happen this year. I don't like to make predictions, I don't have a vote, it is the consciences of 62 senators, but I did feel that around the time the Senate started having its problems at the time, the vote was there. So I am going to go up there and work with the advocates and citizens of the state to get those individuals to where they were a month ago and to bring marriage equality to the seventh state in the union."
The 1,500 attendees were thrilled by the political pedigree of the politicians in attendance, including Christopher Dubs
who relayed, "I was quite impressed by seeing the Governor of New York State here at the Pride Agenda today. I had no expectations of seeing that and I was quite happy to see him representing us." Ellen Bialo
commented on the support of Senator Gillibrand, "She said she would do everything humanly possible in her power to get the bill passed for gay marriage in New York State."
Empire State Pride Agenda Executive Director Alan Van Cappelle and New York State Governor David Paterson.
Host Trinkle further elaborated on the senator's support, "We love Senator Gillibrand, we know her and think she is doing a great job, she is really good on our issues." His partner and co-host Granados commented on the turnout in a difficult economy, "We are so happy to be able to host it and actually we sold out, so we are very happy with the turn-out. We are very surprised, we know the economy is tough, but people are very motivated by how close we are to passing gay marriage. We have gay people here, straight friends and neighbors, beautiful women, it is about a community, it is about civil rights."
Although gay marriage was clearly the number one topic of conversation at the event, the work of ESPA goes beyond marriage equally to include, among its many goals, the elimination of gender and sexual orientation discrimination in employment, health care and housing through political and cultural advocacy and education.
Supporter Jennette Downes
commented on the organization and the diversity of the turn-out, "This is were we organize, we've got from now to September to let our representatives know that this is the point [equality], that is why we are coming together and that is what this organization is all about. We know it is going to happen now. We know the important people are queued into this, they understand about equality, we have black people, Hispanic people, these are people that know what it means to be discriminated against. That is why these people are here in droves."
Almost 1,500 supporters attended the 17th Annual Hamptons Tea Dance in East Hampton.
The event was supported by numerous local and national sponsors and included a children's play area, a Ralph Lauren
photo booth, soft serve ice cream, classic summer hot dogs and DJ Diva Lady Bunny. More than just a political fundraiser, the Hamptons Tea Dance is a celebration of diversity, identity and community. Frankly, it is one great Hamptons party, as attendees danced, cocktailed, and networked at a gathering that exemplifies the joy of people coming together filled with pride of purpose and the expectation of the fulfillment of a long awaited dream of full equality.
To find out more about the Empire State Pride Agenda go to www.prideagenda.org.
Frequently mistaken for the "Most Interesting Man in the World" from the Dos Equis commercials and the iconic gray-bearded Sean Connery, DMH is the Senior Contributing Editor at Hamptons.com. www.hamptons.com