Meet the honorees for the 8th Annual Dorothy AwardsPublished Jan 17, 2011
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The New Haven Pride Center is proud to introduce the honorees for the 8th Annual Dorothy Awards. This year's group of recipients proudly continues the tradition of honoring people who made a difference in the community. Short interviews with our honorees will be posted weekly as we get closer to the event.
Rev. Marilyn Bowens
Rev. Marilyn Bowens is the Senior Pastor of the Metropolitan Community Church of New Haven. Raised in a fundamentalist home and church environment, Rev. Bowens initially sensed her call to ministry as a teenager, but then “life happened,” and her inability to reconcile what she had been taught about homosexuality with the possibility of being a minister deterred her from saying “yes” to her call. Instead, she pursued a Juris Doctorate degree from North Carolina Central University School of Law, and was licensed to practice law, in 1992. She earned her LL.M. degree from the University of Wisconsin (Madison) Law School in 1993. Her thesis, “The ‘Cleaver Paradigm’ as an Anachronism in a Multi-Cultural Society,” in which she argued for legal recognition of non-traditional families, was published in The Wisconsin Journal of Law, Gender, and Society (formerly, The Wisconsin Women’s Law Journal) in 1993.
Rev. Bowens worked as an Assistant Professor of Law at North Carolina Central University School of Law for several years, specializing in Constitutional Law. During this period, she became aware of the existence of the Metropolitan Community Church – a radically inclusive Denomination with a special outreach mission to LGBT’s – and began attending her local MCC. She is convinced that God led her to MCC to be re-educated about the meaning of those scriptures that have been abused to oppress LGBT’s, and to free her of her internalized homophobia. As her healing progressed, she came out and the call to ministry resonated within her more strongly than ever. She gave up her legal career to study at Duke University Divinity School, and received her Master of Divinity degree in 2006. She was ordained as clergy of the Metropolitan Community Church in 2007. She relocated to accept the pastorate of MCC-New
Haven in January of 2008. She has embraced being used by God to provide healing ministry, particularly to LGBT’s, as her life’s work. Rev. Bowens is the proud mother of two adult sons, and the adoring grandmother of her two-year-old grandson, Justin.
A native of New Haven, Tony Ferraiolo is the Co-Founder and President of the Jim Collins Foundation, an organization that raises money to fund gender-confirming surgeries for those transgender people who need surgery to live a healthy life, but have no ability to pay for it themselves. The Jim Collins Foundation is a community-based initiative promoting the self- determination and empowerment of all transgender people.
As a sought-after public speaker, Tony has dedicated himself to promoting competent and respectful health care for the transgender community, educating providers and advocating on behalf of patients.
Tony founded and facilitates two youth groups: Translation, a support group for transgender teenagers, and Create Yourself, an art group for gender non-conforming children under the age of twelve. He also assisted in forming TransPACT, a support group for parents of transgender and gender non-conforming children.
In April 2009, Tony was featured in Fortune 500 Small Business magazine, “When a Staffer Switches Gender” for transitioning at the workplace as the Manufacturing Manager at Madison Company in Branford, CT.
Together with ctEQUALITY, Tony is a leader in the fight to bring equality in gender identity and gender expression to Connecticut’s non-discrimination law. He is also a member of the Out & Equal Workplace Advocates Transgender Advisory Board, and a former board member of the Stonewall Speakers.
Tony is an accomplished artist and songwriter, and is currently pursuing his degree as a life coach to further assist others in reaching their goals and accessing their fullest potential.
Beyond this list of inspiring accomplishments, Tony is known for infusing his stories of the struggles of transition with insight, humor, and compassion.
Robb Bartolomeo, a native of Connecticut, is the owner of Gotham Citi Cafe, which opened in 1996 in the basement level of a building it still occupies on the corner of Church and Crown. Gotham Citi brought gay nightlife back to New Haven after a five-year absence, and began setting a series of firsts in its history. It was the first nightclub in Connecticut to offer an 18+ environment, and it was the first state nightclub to stay open after 2 a.m. with its Oz Afterhours addition. Gotham Citi's popularity as a club with both the straight and gay communities led Robb to offer straight nights after being originally a completely gay-focused club, a switch from the normal setup of a straight-owned nightclub offering a gay night. Starting initially as a club with a hidden entrance on a side street, Robb boldly established a wide-open first level in 1999 with glass windows, making a statement that Gotham Citi, just like the city's gay community, was no longer willing to hide, and served to be part of the revitalization of the city's ninth square district by making so prominent a renovation and statement. Robb continues to evolve the club's atmosphere and offerings to keep the environment relevant to the latest generation of the community. Gotham Citi is about to celebrate its 15th anniversary, holding positions as the largest gay night in the state and the largest gay owned and operated club in New England.
The club's success has allowed Robb and Gotham Citi to support a wide variety of community causes, from Another Octave and the Connecticut Gay Men's Chorus to the American Cancer Society and the New Haven Pride Center. Gotham Citi has sponsored a softball team to encourage a camaraderie in the community. Gotham Citi has over the years been repeatedly recognized by readers of the New Haven Advocate as the best gay bar, and was recognized twice in Out Magazine's round up of the best gay bars in the world, making both their Top 50 and Top 60 lists in recent years.
Robb has also been passionate about ensuring that Pride is celebrated by all, not just limited to a certain region. To that end, he was part of a committee (including the New Haven Pride Center leadership) to develop a New Haven segment of Pride that included a march in downtown New Haven. When that proved unmanageable, Robb established the New Haven Block Party, an annual Pride celebration that allows those in the southern half of the state to have easier access to a Pride celebration. That event currently takes place on the first Saturday each August. Robb also brings a contingent every other year to give Connecticut a sizable presence in New York City's pride march, with roughly 100 participants and plenty of decorated vehicles to offer a block-long presence that rivals the New York nightclub offerings.
The Northeast Ursamen is gay fraternal organization that exists to provide bears and their admirers with opportunities to meet and enjoy time together in a variety of environments and social activities. Since 1992, the Northeast Ursamen has become the largest and longest running club of its kind in the region, thanks to its dedicated members and volunteers. The Northeast Ursamen’s extensive offering of events include community fundraisers, camping trips, pot-luck dinners, and the ever-popular SpookyBear Weekend.