Wingspan's Annual Dinner

By Megan Wadding, Feb. 12, 2015.

The 26th annual Wingspan Dinner fundraiser event is taking place on Feb. 14 at Loews Ventana Canyon Resort in Tucson.

Wingspan served as Tucson’s LGBT community center for 25 years before being acquired by the Southern Arizona AIDS Foundation (SAAF) umbrella organization last year.

“We are looking forward to a great video that will be shown chronicling LGBT History since the early 1900s and some very exciting announcements about the future of Wingspan and SAAF,” said Ethan Smith Cox, SAAF’s director of development. “It will be a great night.”

More than 350 people are expected to attend this year’s dinner, the theme of which is Celebrate Legalized Love.

“We chose the theme to honor the decision made on October 17 that allowed same-sex marriages to move forward in Arizona,” Cox said. “We have two of the plaintiffs in the Arizona Lambda Legal case, Jennifer Hoefle-Olson and Kelli Olson, as our keynote speakers and they will touch on their experiences on the case.”

Olson and Hoefle-Olson, who celebrated the birth of twin daughters in 2012, were legally married in the state of Minnesota in 2013 and both were plaintiffs in the legal battle for marriage equality in the state of Arizona.

Hoefle-Olson, who was born and raised in Arizona and currently serves as the program director for LGBTQ Affairs at the University of Arizona, said she and her wife are honored to be a part of this annual event.

“Wingspan wanted to highlight the local experience and impact of marriage equality with their theme of ‘Celebrating Legalized Love,’” Hoefle-Olson said.

“We will share our story, we will talk about the case itself and how marriage equality came to happen from a legal perspective [and] we will reflect on the national context and what is next for the movement.”

In addition to the keynote speakers, Cox said the evening will feature dinner, cocktails, a silent auction, a game and an awards ceremony.

The Community Awards, which celebrate the work and dedication of three exceptional community members selected by the Wingspan Board, will take place early in the evening.

The Dr. Jean Baker Community Ally Award honors a straight ally who has made significant contributions to the LGBT community in Southern Arizona. The Hall Award recognizes a volunteer who has dedicated much time to the community. The award was named after Steve Hall, a former Wingspan board member and volunteer who died in 2001. The Godat Award is presented an individual with long-term contributions to the LGBT community and was named after Ken Godat, who was also the first recipient of the award.

For 2015, Kent Burbank is receiving the Godat Award; Rick Jorgenson will receive the Hall Award; and Pima County Supervisor Richard Elias is this year’s Community Ally Award.”

“All [award recipients] have been chosen for making a significant difference in the local LGBT community,” Cox said.

Tempest DuJour will host her Not-So-Newlywed Game at the annual Wingspan dinner.

Tempest DuJour, a Tucson-based drag queen and soon-to-be contestant on RuPaul’s Drag Race, will be playing the Not-So-Newlywed Game with attendees this year, Cox said. The featured game is one of 10 from DuJour’s Retro Game Night, a show that takes place monthly at Hotel Congress.

“We [will] present twisted, adult versions of game shows from the 1970s and put our own spin on them,” DuJour said. “We are really honored to be a part of the community dinner this year and we are sure that the audience will be entertained with our irreverent and abbreviated version of one of our most popular games.”

DuJour, who has volunteered with Wingspan since moving to Tucson in 2002, said she has fond memories of being involved with the dinner in its earlier years.

“[It] was a huge event and it was a chance for this amazing community to come together and be seen and heard,” DuJour said. “I always looked forward to hearing the speakers and remember feeling empowered and energized by their inspiring words and experiences.”

According to Cox, SAAF’s recent acquisition of Wingspan’s programs – the Anti-Violence Project and the Eon Youth Lounge – will have little to no impact on the annual community tradition, adding that it will be “very similar” to the event that “everyone has come to know and love” over the prior 25 years.

The 26th Annual Wingspan Dinner

5:30 p.m. Feb. 14

Loews Ventana Canyon Resort

7000 N. Resort Drive, Tucson

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Photo by Margo Amala on Unsplash

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