For the 8th year, The Diversity Honors will spotlight some of the most talented change-makers in the entertainment industry. In support of the Harvey Milk Foundation and The Pride Center at Equality Park, the annual gala, hosted by the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Hollywood, will be honoring a variety of stars and notable voices: Billy Porter, Belinda Carlisle, Spencer Battiest, Mark Hunter Seymour, Tatiana Williams and The Gay Men’s Chorus of South Florida.
Among the three Harvey Milk Medal honorees is the multi-talented Billy Porter. Porter is an Emmy, Grammy, Tony, and GLAAD Media Award winning actor, singer, director, composer, playwright, and activist who is being awarded for his trailblazing career and unmatched authenticity.
From starring in FX’s Pose and playing Lola in Kinky Boots to directing the GLAAD Media Award winning Anything’s Possible and publishing his 2021 memoir Unprotected, Billy Porter brings meaningful and powerful representation to every project he’s a part of.
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Singer-songwriter and actor Spencer Battiest will also receive a Harvey Milk Medal at the gala. Battiest is Native American (Seminole/Choctaw) talent who cemented a spot in the music and entertainment industry as a singer-songwriter, producer, and actor. His musical journey, rooted in the heritage of his Hollywood Seminole Indian Reservation, transitioned from the traditional hymns of his youth to the contemporary rhythms of pop/rock and rhythm and blues.
In a 2013 groundbreaking move, he became the first American Indian artist to sign with Hard Rock Records and released his debut EP “Stupid in Love” two years later. Spencer, alongside his brother Doc Native, won a VMA in 2017 for the politically charged collaboration “Stand Up/Stand N Rock #NoDAPL.” His career continued to flourish with multiple singles, a foray into musical theatre with “Distant Thunder,” and further recognition for his music videos like “Dream.”
In 2022, he won his second Native American Music Award and performed at significant events including concerts honoring Native American veterans. Today, Spencer Battiest inspires a global audience with his vibrant performances and messages of hope, courage, and cultural pride.
Battiest will be the first Native American to receive this medal.
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In a conversation with OUTSFL, Battiest revealed that initially, he didn’t feel worthy of this recognition. Fortunately, his partner, NBC News journalist Jay Valle, reminded him of the impact his authenticity had on young Native people who looked up to him.
“He had some really good words for me,” Battiest told John McDonald. “He reminded me that I’ve taken him to every tribal function since we’ve been together. Fully and authentically being myself and sharing with my community and family the person that I love and share my life with — sometimes just being that can be inspiring to others.”
“I try to find harmony and peace in the life that I’ve lived and to be an example for anyone who sees me and that includes the struggle, insecurity and negative responses that come with being a queer person especially living out here in this state,” he said. “You have to find the harmony and peace that’s within yourself and for me that’s my family, tribe and partner.” Read the full feature here.
Among other honorees is also Tatiana Williams, who will be receiving the Diversity Honors Award. Williams South Florida native Williams is the co-founder and executive director of Transinclusive Group (TIG), Broward County’s first African American trans-led organization. Founded in 2017, TIG’s mission is to advocate to protect and defend equality for transgender and LGBTQ+ individuals in South Florida. Through TIG, Williams works in partnership with GLAAD and Gilead Sciences’ COMPASS Initiative, to remain focused on ending the HIV epidemic in the South.
Williams has worked with artists including Da Baby and Lil Nas X to support LGBTQ+ outreach, advocacy and education and has written for GLAAD and the Journal of American Medicine Association. Williams sits on numerous boards including Equality Florida TransAction Council, Human Rights Campaign and Broward County Hate Crimes Taskforce. She serves as interim co-chair of the Broward County Integrated Prevention and Care Plan which includes the statewide coordinated statement of need for the Center for Disease Control, Florida HIV/AIDS Comprehensive Planning Network, at-large State Representative, Broward County HIV Prevention Planning Council Transgender Advisory Group and Transgender Law Center’s National Trans Agenda Coalition.
In a press release statement, Susan Renneisen, Vice President of community affairs and special events for Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & CasinoHollywood said that, “Diversity Honors celebrates the vision of Harvey Milk and the dream for a better tomorrow filled with the hope for equality and a world without hate. We are honored to produce this event, in support of the Harvey Milk Foundation and The Pride Center at Equality Park, which recognizes those who are transforming lives by living authentically and advancing inclusiveness. Billy Porter, Belinda Carlisle and Spencer Battiest along with a host of local honorees are well-deserving of this salute for all they do to make the world a more united place for everyone.”
The event takes place Saturday, March 9th.
To reserve tickets, please visit DiversityHonors.org.