organizing-image603x340A few months ago there was the Anti-violence Project’s 17th annual Courage Awards event in New York and unfortunately I could not attend this, because we live overseas in Europe. I wanted to be there and not because I love NYC, but this is a great project and where the projects stands for could be held everywhere in the world. In the news you hear frequently about violence and bullying regarding the LGBT community and even here in liberal and open minded countries like Belgium and The Netherlands it still happens. So this is a subject that definitely should get our attention. Because of my great friends Alan and Ray who I adore and love I can share this with you all and expect your support. Alan wrote an extra piece for my blog about this event, so read further and support our community.

Alan Locher’s story:

1272067_10151968187800499_713295821_oOn September 27, 2013, I accompanied my husband to the Anti-Violence Project’s 17th Annual Courage Awards.  My husband, Ray, sits on the Board and is the Board Treasurer / Finance Committee Chair.  He has been involved with the organization for the last four years. I am so proud of the work he does for this great charity. I personally became involved with the organization a few years back when one of my closest friends became the Board Chair.  For those that do not know, the Anti-Violence Project’s strives to empower lesbian, gay, bisexual transgender, queer, and HIV-affected communities and allies to end all forms of violence through organizing and education, and supports survivors through counseling and advocacy. They are an amazing organization with a fierce and tireless leader, Sharon Stapel. 


photo 1Each year the Courage Awards honors people within the community for their courageous efforts to end violence. This year’s honorees were “Orange Is The New Black” star Laverne Cox and author Janet Mock.  I was so excited to see both of these beautiful ladies live and in person.  My husband and I had just finished watching the first season of Orange Is The New Black.  We are big fans of the show and Laverne’s character, Sophia.  We had also recently seen the HBO documentary The Out List which features Janet Mock and other high profile members of today’s LGBTQ community sharing their struggles and triumphs of being “out” in America.  If you haven’t seen it yet, I highly recommend you check it out.  Both women gave powerful speeches and Janet spoke of a recent young transgender woman who was killed in New Jersey. 


You can see her speech from the Courage Awards here:


My husband has already pre-purchased Janet’s book Redefining Realness redefining-realness-janet-mock-book-memoirwhich will be released in February of next year.  She is an amazing speaker and we both look forward to reading it.


There was another reason I was excited for this year’s Courage Awards. Steve Grand, the 22 photo 2year-old singer / songwriter, who made a splash on to the music scene in July when he released his first song / video on YouTube for All American Boy, was scheduled to perform.  I was really excited to see him.  There’s no hiding the fact that Grand is cute, but my admiration for him goes so much further. I think it took a ton of courage on his part to put his sexuality on the table in his debut single. I don’t know any other 22 year-old who openly put their sexuality on the table at the forefront of their career. I think it takes a lot of courage to do that and share your true self.  Grand is making a difference in the world whether he set out to or not. 

My husband and I were lucky to meet him that night and I was able to tell him in person how much I admired him. I personally believe by being himself he is going to help so many young kids.  I think back to when I came out and wish there was someone like Grand to look up to. He was very modest and said something like, “I am not perfect.”  Perfect or not, it takes courage to do what he did at such a young age and so early in one’s career. 


Sharon Stapel and Laverne Cox
Sharon Stapel and Laverne Cox

All in all, The Courage Awards was a truly inspiring, informative, and special event.  I hope this year’s honorees are as proud of their awards as I am of them.  For more information on the Anti-Violence Project, please visit


If you would like to support the Anti-Violence Project, please visit

Have a great courageous Pink day!!!

Big kiss,

 Blogger Lesley and his friend guest-blogger Alan

Blogger Lesley and his friend guest-blogger Alan



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