Charity Gayla at Toledo Club Dec. 3Written by Brigitta Burks | News Editor | BBurks@toledofreepress.com
A fashion show, drag queen performances and an all-around good time are in store for those who attend the Holiday with Heart Charity Gayla, the calendar event of the season for Toledo’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.
The 34th annual event is set for Dec. 3 at 5:30 p.m. with proceeds benefiting the Pride of Toledo Foundation and AIDS research by Dr. Joan Duggan of the University of Toledo Medical Center.
“It’s just grown tremendously. It started in 1977 with 16 in attendance and last year, it sold out,” said Rick Cornett, a member of the Gayla’s board of directors.
The board chooses two different charities to support every year. The Pride Foundation hosted the successful Toledo Pride parade this summer, said board member Andrew Larsen.
“That’s an organization that really needs some assistance to make next year’s event even bigger and better than it was this year,” he said.
The Gayla often supports AIDS charities because so much research and work still needs to be done, Cornett said. “It’s the 30th year since AIDS has come to the surface and no matter who we support, we always try to keep that in focus,” he said.
The Holiday with Heart Charity Gayla also started a fund with the Toledo Community Foundation, which will help the board manage its funds and give throughout the year. “That’s going to enable us to support many more charities than the two to three we do now,” Larsen said.
Last year’s event raised $7,500 with more than 200 in attendance. This year, Cornett said the goal is $15,000 with corporate sponsorships and 300 in attendance.
Registrants can make memorial donations in the name of Richard Flock, who recently passed away. “He was an icon, especially to this event. He was one of the founding members,” Cornett said.
Drag queens MaKayla Sinclaire Styles and Twila Starr will also perform at the Gayla. Each will sing a Christmas song and another “regular, fun song,” Cornett said. In addition, Cityboyz Fashion Menswear will present a mini fashion show. Holiday with Heart Charity Gayla ornaments will be on sale for $10 at the event, Cornett said. Each ornament is marked with the year, and if they sell well, the Gayla will release a new tree-trimmer each year.
Cornett emphasized that the whole community is invited. “Everyone’s welcome, we want everyone to come,” he said. “A lot of people think it’s just for gays and lesbians, but it’s not.”
The Gayla will take place at The Toledo Club, 235 14th St. Reservations are $65 and must be made by Nov. 25. To register, visit www.hwhcharitygayla.org or call Cornett at (419) 470- 3937. Toledo Free Press is a media sponsor of the Gayla.
— Brigitta Burks