This past weekend, the LGBT Network hosted their annual summer kick-off event with a BBQ at the Hamptons home of Edie Windsor, followed by a cocktail reception at the Bridgehampton Tennis and Surf Club.
"It's all about coming together and it's all about supporting one another for a great cause which is supporting the LGBT Network and specifically our Hamptons LGBT center, which is so important for the kids and families out here," David Kilmnick, the Chief Executive Officer of the LGBT Network, said.
Both the BBQ and the cocktail reception on Saturday, May 23rd benefited the Hamptons LGBT center. "Today is a day about celebrating, but also keeping in mind that we are here to raise money for a good cause," Kilmnick added.
Supporters first gathered during a backyard party held at Windor's house to celebrate the cause. Windsor, a hero to the LGBT community, won one of the landmark civil rights cases back in 2013. When Windsor's partner, Thea Spyer, passed away in 2009, Windor was left her entire estate. However, at the time, the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) prevented her from receiving the same treatment as other couples who lose a spouse, because the act only recognized marriages between male and female.
In 2010, Windsor filed a lawsuit against the federal government. She won her case two years later, when the court ruled that Section 3 of DOMA to be unconstitutional. This win was a huge step for the LGBT community and Windor's court case provoked change.
The LGBT network offers a variety of services, from educating the youth to mental health services. They have various centers across Long Island. (Photo: Krysten Massa)
Windor said that all of the changes and victories since her court case are "glorious." She noted that everything that has happened to her after winning that case has been rewarding.
"It's been a delight.," shared Windor. "And, I have said a number of times, if I had to survive Thea, what a way to do it."
During the opening remarks, Windsor thanked everyone in attendance and the LGBT Network for continuing to honor her and hosting the party at her home. The BBQ goers cheered for her and for all of the accomplishments the LGBT Network has made in the last couple of years and for the future goals.
Chief Executive Officer of the LGBT Network David Kilmnick also addressed attendees. He shared other projects the LGBT Network is working on, such as bringing the first LGBT affordable senior housing to Bayshore and a new LGBT Patchogue center. An added bonus for the day, which had the guests fired up, was Ireland passing same-sex marriage. The crowd roared when Kilmnick mentioned the news in his speech.
"We're getting so much more visible in the Hamptons area and we want everyone to know that we are here across the Island, no one is forgotten," Stephanie Prisco-Buxbaum, Health Promotion Coordinator for the Long Island Gay and Lesbian Youth (LIGALY), said about the work LIGALY does. She spoke about the different types of programs for the youth in the LGBT community, like the Pride Empowerment Project (PEP).
The event served as a way to network and meet different people who work for the LGBT Network or are supporters of the cause.
"I think it's a great event because you see this mix of people and they are from all different generations," Natalia M. Zimnoch, a BBQ attendee said. "I wish that more people in our generation (20's) will become more involved because we need to keep the movement going forward."
It was a beautiful May afternoon, where guests conversed and took photos with each other in the Hamptons backyard, while they enjoyed food from The BBQ King. Attendees came from all over Long Island and New York City to come to the event and show their support.
Michael Sabatino and Robert Voorheis. (Photo: Krysten Massa)
The cocktail reception later that evening at Bridgehampton Tennis and Surf Club offered another round of silent auction items to raise funds for LGBT Network. 32 items were auctioned, including items like lunch and golf for two at the Southfork Country Club in Amagansett and a two-hour private sailing lesson for two people with a Breakwater Yacht Club certified instructor. The second soiree of the day was catered by Robbins Wolfe Catering.
A big theme of the day was that the money raised was going to stay local and benefit the community. Southampton Town Board Member Bridget Fleming, who is running for Suffolk County Legislature, attended both events. Fleming mentioned how so many people in the Southampton area are strong supporters and activist of the LGBT community
"It's very exciting for me as a supporter of the LGBT community to be able to now have the prospect of thinking of these folks as my constituents because we see eye to eye and have fought shoulder to shoulder over the years," Fleming said.
She stressed the importance of making sure that everyone in the LGBT community has a place to go to for support and said she works hard to make sure that the proper services are targeted to the people who need it.
"For us, it really marks the organization's growth," Robert Vitelli, the Chief Operating Officer of the LGBT Network, said about the events. "We had two events today and it just shows 350 to 400 people are willing to come out to two different events to support this organization and it helps the LGBT Network and its goals of making sure that everyone has a safe space."
For more information about the LGBT Network, visit lgbtnetwork.org.