Stonewall’s Equality Dinner saw celebrities rub shoulders with ministers at London’s Dorchester Hotel last night. The event, sponsored by UBS for the fourth year, raised £280,000 for Stonewall’s campaigning work.
The special event was extended this year to help mark Stonewall’s 20th anniversary. A commemorative programme was given to all guests highlighting how far Stonewall has come in 20 years, but also how much needs to be done in the next 20 years towards full equality for lesbian and gay people. This was a theme reflected in all keynote speeches on the night.
Cleve Jones – human rights activist, founder of the NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt and instrumental in the campaign to get Harvey Milk elected – gave an inspiring keynote speech. Talking about Stonewall, he said: ‘I salute you on your work…Peace and social justice was Harvey Milk’s vision and it’s the vision of the founders of this organisation. Young people in this country are being beaten and killed just as in my country. Our struggle against homophobia is not over.’
The dinner was hosted by Amy Lamé and the celebrity auctioneer for the night was Christopher Biggins. A DJ set at the end of the night was given by Jodie Harsh and Kris Di Angelis. Guests included Rhona Cameron, Maggi Hambling and Paul Gambaccini as well as ministers, MPs and peers.
Ben Summerskill, Stonewall Chief Executive, said: ‘This year’s Stonewall Equality Dinner had a special 20th anniversary theme. But we didn’t just look back proudly over all the achievements of the past two decades. We looked forward too – at all the steps towards lesbian and gay equality we plan to take in the next 20 years. Stonewall is busier than ever. We won’t stop until every single lesbian and gay person enjoys full equality – at home, at school, and at work. 1989. 2009. 2029. So much done. So much still to do.’
Auctioned at the Dinner were a range of lots including a 1-2-1 styling session with Gok Wan, a painting by Maggi Hambling, dinner with Joan Collins and Christopher Biggins, a Kobi Israel print, and front row tickets for Waiting for Godot, with backstage champagne reception with cast members Sir Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart.
All funds raised will go towards Stonewall campaigns such as Education for All, tackling homophobic bullying in Britain’s schools.