7th Annual Saginaw Valley LGBT Pride Awards

A Celebration of the 46th anniversary of Stonewall
Tuesday, June 23, 2015
Andersen Enrichment Center


(Evening Emcee—Dr. Peter Brian Barry)
6 – 7 p.m. Reception – Lucille Andersen Rose Garden
7 – 8 p.m. Dinner – The Savoy Grill
8 – 9 p.m. Welcome – Chris Lauckner, Perceptions Chair, Leo Romo, Awards Banquet Chair, and Peter Brian Barry
PRIDE Awards – Emcee Dr. Peter Brian Barry
(with Chris Lauckner and Leo Romo)

2015 Pride Award Recipients


 Business – Plant Fitness Midland

Plant Fitness, Midland, made national news when it defended the rights of a transgender woman who was a guest that came under attack for using the women’s locker room. The membership of the non-transgender woman who publicly protested, was revoked. Even when she filed a lawsuit against Planet Fitness, the company was resolute in its defense of its No Judgment Zone policy. In a public statement, Planet Fitness said all of its 1,000 locations will continue to adhere to the company’s fundamental belief that “members and guests may use all gym facilities based on their sincere self-reported gender identity.” At a time when the transgender community is under great duress, Planet Fitness’ stance is a positive message that taking a stand for social justice can also be a good business decision.



 Rising Star – Cara Mitrano – Midland high school activist

 Cara Mitrano is a senior at Midland High School, where she helped start the school’s GSA. The GSA’s advocacy work raised awareness of LGBTQ issues through numerous activities, including Asexual Awareness Week, Transgender Day of Remembrance, and faculty awareness training. Despite vandalism and bullying at Midland and H.H. Dow High Schools, Cara continued to display LGBT-affirming posters on her lockers. The administration of one school even demanded she remove LGBT-positive posters from her locker. With poise and dignity, Cara collaborated with school faculty and Lambda Legal to protect her rights. In the Fall, Cara will attend Wayne State University, where she will continue her advocacy work through the GLBTA Student Union.

Rising Star – Brandon Errer – SVSU Student Actist

 Brandon Errer is in his second year as president of Living Proud, the student-run LGBTQIA organization at Saginaw Valley State University. In the last year, Brandon helped convince SVSU’s Board of Control to change the school’s Equal Employment Opportunity policy to include sexual orientation. Brandon continues to advocate for a long overdue and much needed LGBTQIA resource center on cam-pus, and is a firm believer in the implementation of gender neutral bathrooms throughout the school. Among his many talents, Brandon is a kind and patient teacher who is always willing to educate others on LGBTQIA issues. In the future, Brandon hopes to convince SVSU to include gender identity and gender expression in its non-discrimination policy

Rising Star – Jodi Liebmann -Female Women’s Activist – Midland

 Jodi Liebmann is an out, loud and proud ally of the LGBTQIA community in the Great Lakes Bay Region. Through her tireless work with the Underground Railroad, she is a powerful advocate for the victims of sexual assault. He belief that people can accomplish all they have a mind to has helped change the lives of countless women and children for the better. Through her work with the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Midland, Jodi has been at the forefront in organizing seminars and work-shops to raise the level of LGBTQIA awareness in Midland. At nearly every city council or county supervisor hearing on human rights in the region, Jodi has been a visible and often outspoken presence. Jodi is a consistent and conscientious voice of reason, and serves as an excellent role model for LGBTQIA+ allies everywhere.

 Champion of Pride – Heather Aviles – Midland teacher

 Heather Aviles is a Spanish Teacher at Midland High School, where three years ago she founded the A-Z Club, a very private organization that provided a safe space for LGBTQIA students who needed to protect their privacy. Currently, she is the adviser for the school’s GSA. This school year, Heather arranged for to have student members of the GSA walk in the homecoming parade with a rain-bow banner. Through her dedication to equality and equity, Heather has created a climate of inclusion, acceptance and respect for all LGTQIA students and allies.

 Champion of Pride – David Custer

 David Custer is the 5:30 p.m. news anchor at WNEM-TV 5 in Saginaw. David is an out and unapologetic gay man whose community activism and his media presence empower LGBTQIA people to live authentic lives. He recently shared his own traumatic life experiences with the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights in the hopes of creating legislation to protect LGBTQIA youth. He has won several Emmy Awards and even appeared on the Wendy Williams Show in New York City to help make Twinkie recipes, which he has presumably perfected with his long time partner, Dan.

 Politicial – Congressman Dan Kildee

 Congressman Dan Kildee serves in the U.S. House of Representatives where he continues to work tirelessly for LGBTQIA people in Michigan’s 5th District and throughout the United States. Now in his second term, Mr. Kildee is the vice-chair of the LGBT Equality Caucus in the House. In addition to meeting at Delta College with local LGBTQIA and political leaders, Mr. Kildee and his staff championed the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, co-authored the Student Non-Discrimination Act, co-sponsored a resolution to stop conversion therapy on LGBTQIA youth and have continued to fight for marriage and family equality. Mr. Kildee is a vocal opponent to the wave of so-called anti-transgender bathroom bills and efforts to allow discrimination on the basis of deeply held convictions. Congressperson Kildee has proven themselves time and time again to be a strong and reasoned voice for LGBTQIA civil rights.

 Life Acheivement – Randy Hasso

Randy Hasso has lived and worked in suburban Saginaw almost all of his adult life. Over the course of almost 31 years, Randy has generously contributed his time, talents, resources, and treasures to the LGBTQIA and HIV/AIDS communities. In the early 1980s, Randy made and distributed 1,000 pins that honored seven Saginaw Valley men who died of AIDS. With other local people, Randy marched in 1987, 1989 and 1991 for Gay Rights in Washington, D.C. He has been an active and vital member of several organizations, including Dignity Tri-Cities, The NAMES Project/AIDS Memorial Quilt, Wellness Networks Tri-Cities, and Perceptions Saginaw Valley. He is a tireless leader and is always willing to roll up his sleeves and do the hard work that is so desperately needed to improve the lives of those in the LGBTQIA community, as well as raise awareness in the Great Lakes Bay Region. Through his various positions as officer and board member, Randy is a role model for young people throughout our community. As a frequent host of several fundraising events, including anniversaries and rummage sales, Randy has raised much needed funds in support of the LGTQIA community in our region. According to one longtime friend, “Randy has a wicked sense of humor. We are lucky to have such a kind, friendly person in the Tri-Cities who is gay, out, and lives his pride for himself and others—truly for a lifetime—and is a great example for us all.”


Special Thank You

Chris Lauckner
Alberto Jimenez
Tim Atkinson
Leo Romo
Charin Davenport
Joan Brausch
Alan Shanaver
The Savoy Grill
Greg Gwaltney
Joel Payne
Kelly Moore
Dr. Peter Brian Barry
Bill Gior-gis
2015 Pride Banquet Sponsors
Perceptions’ 2015 Great Lakes Bay PRIDE Festival Committee and YOU!

2014 Pride Banquet Sponsors*

Edie Windsor

Tom Burkey
Perceptions LGBT/Smoking Grant
Russ Inman and Bill Giorgis
Mike’s Wrecker Service
In honor of Dignity Tri-Cities/First Pride Week June 1985
The Savoy Grill

Harvey Milk

Rick Farrand and Bob Enszer
Harold Lenhart MD and Pamela Blondin
PFLAG Tri-Cities
Joan Brausch
Ellen DeGeneres
Floyd Andrick
State Representive Vanessa Guerra
In Memory of Lorna Nolan


Rev. Jeff & Jody Liebmann
Leo R. Romo


Kitty Packard
Tri-Cities for Peace (TCAP)

*Donor Levels: Edie Windsor—$200 or more; Harvey Milk—$100; Ellen De-Generes—$50; Advocate—$25; Patron—$10

Note From the Chairs

WELCOME to the 7th annual Perceptions LGBT & Allies Pride Awards Banquet. Perceptions offers this event to the LGBT community and supporters, and congratulates the honorees for their outstanding contribution toward making a positive impact on the lives of LGBT individuals, as well as helping to educate others on the need to change discriminatory laws and practices in Michigan.
We honor, celebrate, and retell stories of one business and seven incredible people who have shown us that it is possible to reveal, express, and support the needs of the local LGBT community. Through their exam-ples, we are inspired, empowered, and challenged.
We can all make a difference! The honorees give evidence to that fact. I hope, by your attendance, you are moved toward a deeper call to action by stepping out and recognizing ‘we are the possible’.
Thank you,
Christopher Lauckner
Chair, Perceptions
THANK YOU for attending the 7th Annual Saginaw Valley LGBT & Allies Pride Banquet and being part of LGBT and ally history. Times are changing. Same-sex marriages are legal in 37 states and Washington, D.C.
Still, Michigan LGBT individuals can be legally discriminated against in employment, housing and public accommodations. It will continue to be this way until Michigan’s Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act is rewritten to include protection from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gen-der identity.
I hope tonight’s program will increase your knowledge on the issues and, in the end, inspire you to accept the challenge of doing all that you can do in working toward equality for all people.
Leo R. Romo
Chair, Pride Awards Banquet

About Perceptions

Perceptions is a non-profit community organization that offers educational, social and networking opportunists for Tri-Cities (Midland, Bay City and Saginaw) and surrounding areas. Perceptions strives to foster a positive image for the gay, bisexual and transgender community and our allies.

Perceptions 2015 Board of Trustees

Chris Lauckner – Chair
Beth Sibray – Vice-Chair
Dylan Moorehead – Secretary
Greg Gwaltney – Treasurer
Libby Pionk – Trustee
Stacie Wawsczyk -Trustee
Alberto Jimenez – Trustee
Joan Brausch – Trustee

Board Advisors:

Joel Payne, Charin Davenport, Leo Romo, Amy McDonald, Tim Atkinson,  and Ky Miller

Pride Awards Banquet website: Tim Atkinson

Newsletter Editor: Joan Brausch