The New York-centric do gooders over at the Empire State Pride Agenda invited us to their fall dinner last night. Never ones to give up a free meal and a room full of attractive gentlemen – and others! – we accepted their kind invitation. So did our camera man, Zach Golden, who trailed our editor as he talked politics with Alan Cumming, Ted Allen and the ultra-handsome Cheyenne Jackson, who must be 8,000 feet tall.

Christopher Meloni and Mary-Louise Parker were meant to be there, but they weren’t. Oh well.

Author and activist David Mixner delivered a rousing, emotional speech in which he described gays as “a magnificent community”. The Empire State Pride Agenda dinner proved that.

Caroline Rhea hosted event and though we didn’t get a chance to talk to her, we definitely heard her loud and clear when she said “Gays teach us how to be gracious and brave”. New York first lady Silda Wall Spitzer, Vagina Monologue author Eve Ensler and Senator Malcolm Smith all made speeches. Smith must have been feeling really gay-friendly, because earlier in the day he gave Vanessa Redgrave an award for her activism.

One of the greatest moments came when United Federation of Teachers’ Randi Weingarten discussed her life as lesbian labor leader. Though she’s always been a lesbian, Weingarten hasn’t always been out. Gay City News‘ Paul Schindler writes:

…Weingarten was recalled a telephone conversation in which a colleague in the state teachers union was urging that its annual convention not take up a proposed resolution condemning the right-wing push for a constitutional amendment barring gay marriage.

As she prepared to launch into the part of that story in which she essentially told her union colleague off, Weingarten stepped back slightly from the microphone, visibly took a deep breath, and said, “At that point, my sexual orientation was not as common knowledge… as it might be tonight.”

The well-heeled crowd went wild, of course.

For more on Empire State Pride Agenda here.

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