The Stonewall Ball, an event organized by Compass Gay and Lesbian Community Center of Palm Beach County, returns for a thirteenth year. The Stonewall Ball brings voters together with politicians and various dignitaries from across Palm Beach County, South Florida and the Treasure Coast. On average, over 800 people attend the Stonewall Ball every year, making it one of Compass’s flagship events. This year’s event will be held on Saturday, June 28; doors open to the general public starting at 9 p.m. at the Harriet Himmel Theater at CityPlace (700 S. Rosemary Ave., West Palm Beach).
The Stonewall Ball started in 2002 as an outreach event organized by Compass. Compass itself is a non-profit organization that does not endorse any specific candidate or party, but one of its aims is to engage the community in civic-minded conversation, and another aim is to bring community leaders together with voters so these leaders can hear about the lives and concerns of their constituents. This year is special, as the LGBT community celebrates the 45th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, and not only does Compass take this opportunity to recognize the work activists and public servants have done to further equality in this country, they also look at the landscape of Palm Beach County and how it has changed since 1969. This year’s Stonewall Ball will be one of the more special and retrospective ceremonies.
In addition to the party itself, there will also be a silent auction and an awards ceremony. The proceeds raised by the silent auction benefit Compass and the wide range of services they offer to the community, including HIV prevention, case management, and social and support groups for youth and adults. If you are interested in donating to Compass or donating an item for the silent auction, please access and fill out the auction donation request form, which can be downloaded and printed by clicking the link “Donate to the Silent Auction” on the Stonewall Ball page, which is at compassglcc.com/swb.html. If you have any questions about donating items to the silent auction, you can call Will Castano at (561) 533-9699.
Two main awards are given out at the Stonewall Ball each year. First, there is the Compass Leadership Award. This award is given to a public official, whether he or she is appointed or elected, who has “demonstrated a commitment to honoring and forwarding social justice initiatives that are inclusive of sexual orientation and gender identity.” Past recipients of this award have gone on to become county commissioners, mayors, and even United States Representatives sitting in Congress, representing the Sunshine State. The second award is the Michael Brown Faces of the Community Award, and this honor is given to a community member who has “demonstrated notable efforts toward promoting pride and a connectivity within our diverse community.” This award is considered to be one of the highest honors an LGBT rights activist in Palm Beach County can receive.
Compass is very excited about this year’s celebrations. “One of the biggest things we’re excited about this year is that we’re coming off our biggest attended PrideFest [of Lake Worth and the Palm Beaches]. This year we had over 18,000 people and there’s just been so much momentum as we roll toward this event because so many of our recent events have been well-attended,” said Jimmy Zoellner, Development Director for Compass. “There’s also a lot of buzz because it’s a midterm election year, so there’s talk of a lot more elected officials and people running for office who might be attending.”
When asked about the venue, Zoellner said, “The Harriet Himmel Theater is a really beautiful spot for a party. We work with an internationally-known designer, Bruce Sutka, and he always comes out with an amazing design for the space. It’s neat and spectacular to see when it’s all lit up and decorated.”
Interested in attending the Stonewall Ball this year? You can buy tickets online at the Stonewall Ball page (compassglcc.com/swb.html) or by telephone at (561) 533-9699. Tickets cost $30 in advance, $40 at the door and $60 for reception to the main event plus the VIP reception. The VIP reception will be held at the Harriet Himmel Theater at CityPlace an hour before the Stonewall Ball starts. The dress code for the VIP and main events is as follows: “Palm Beach casual, cocktail and costumed attire. Black and white is encouraged.”
Compass has served the LGBT population of Palm Beach County since 1988. For more information about Compass, the Stonewall Ball, and other events and services, visit compassglcc.com.