LGBT community leaders and allies on Sunday honored trans teen Jazz Jennings and paid tribute to late businessman Mark Haines at Equality Florida’s annual Broward Gala in Fort Lauderdale.
Hundreds attended the 12th annual gala, held this year at the Hyatt Regency Pier Sixty-Six Panorama Ballroom. Equality Florida raised more than $400,000 at the event, according to Deputy Director Stratton Pollitzer.
Jazz, 14, received Equality Florida’s Voice For Equality award, several weeks after Time magazine named her to it’s 2014 list of 25 most influential teens.
Also at the event, Pollitzer highlighted Equality Florida’s accomplishments, including its lawsuit challenging Florida’s constitutional gay marriage ban.
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Equality Florida also paid tribute to Haines, founder of Mark’s List in Fort Lauderdale, who died Friday after he was struck by three vehicles in the Florida Keys. Haines had been in Monroe County for the annual SMART Ride HIV/AIDS fundraiser, a two-day, 165-mile bike ride from Miami to Key West.
Many of Haines’ friends attended the gala, where they shared memories of him.
“Mark has given us space and time. Literally hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of publicity,” gala chairman Nate Klarfeld said. “He made me aware when I did an event like this, that we always honor the people that given us money or any kind of services. So he will surely be missed and we lost a fighter.”
A tribute poster was put on display, for friends and guests to sign.
“He was an extremely kind and considerate person. ... He had such a big impact on me personally,” said Terrence Paoli, vice president of the Miami Gay Men’s Chorus. “I have a real soft spot for him. [His death] is incredibly disturbing and an incredible loss for the community.”
Memorial service Saturday
On Tuesday, Haines’ close friend Stephen Lang posted on Facebook:
“Mark's untimely death on November 14, 2014 created a void in the hearts of countless people.
“Please join family, colleagues & friends on Saturday, Nov. 22 at 1 p.m. as we remember Mark, an LGBTQ media trailblazer. The memorial hosted by The Pride Center at Equality Park, 2040 Dixie Hwy., Wilton Manors, will include speakers, refreshments & music from Mark’s Play List.
“Dress is casual, and although it is not required, outfits incorporating blue (Mark’s favorite color) are highly encouraged. In lieu of flowers, Mark’s family has requested donations to Mark’s #SmartRide Fund, one of the many causes he was passionate about.”