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EVENT REPORT

Giuliani Addresses Gay Group Dinner

October 9, 2001, 12:00 AM EDT

Empire State Pride Agenda annual fall dinner Sheraton New York Hotel and Towers Thursday, 10.04.01, 6 PM onward
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Rudy Giuliani is a busy man: Aside from keeping the city's spirits afloat following the World Trade Center attacks and playing cheerleader for New York's tourism industry, he maintains a busy schedule of appearances ranging from holding press conferences, visits to ground zero and attending memorial services and funerals for police officers and firefighters who perished after the attack. So even though the Empire State Pride Agenda booked Giuliani and Governor George Pataki as speakers for their fall dinner months in advance, and all bets were off after September 11. But both men made it to speak at the nonprofit's dinner, entitled Embrace the Past, Engage the Present, Envision the Future at the Sheraton New York Hotel & Towers.

The gay and lesbian rights nonprofit has a history of prominent politicos speaking at their events, including both Bill and Hillary Clinton, Senator Ted Kennedy and former Texas Governor Ann Richards. This year was no exception. The annual dinner, organized by the Pride Agenda director of development Frank Stasio, hosted approximately 1,000 guests. And judging from the amount of chattering during dinner and the fund-raising auction, the mostly male audience seemed to enjoy each other's company more than anything else that evening.

The only things that held the group's attention were the speeches by Pataki and Giuliani, who both praised the nonprofit for its work furthering gay rights and its support of hate crime legislation and AIDS research. Both men also pointed out that the terrorists who attacked the World Trade Center acted out of hate, and the nonprofit's goal of spreading tolerance was more important than ever. Another showstopper was a moving rendition of “America the Beautiful,” by Broadway darling Lillias White, who also performed at last year's dinner, and the recent Dreamgirls benefit.

Mike Zimet Enterprises handled the security for the event, which was multi-layered with volunteers and guards checking tickets and badges for entrance to the cocktail reception, dining room and V.I.P. room. Pataki and Giuliani were closely escorted to and from the podium, and made quick entrances and exits before and after their speeches.

For decor, the tables were decorated with simple pale green hydrangea and lavender rose centerpieces from Gregory Bach Design Services. A live auction component of the evening was hosted by Benjamin Doller of Sotheby's and featured walk-on parts on Showtime's Queer as Folk, Australian and Italian vacation packages and a Mitchell Gold furniture shopping spree. The auction reaped more than $150,000 for the nonprofit.

--Suzanne Ito

Read about last year's fall dinner...

Read a Discovery about how to book Giuliani for an event...

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