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On July 11th, “The Imperial Court of New York”, is presenting a benefit concert for Orlando, at The Copa, (268 W 47th), beginning at 7pm. All proceeds will go to the “OneOrlando Fund”. It will be hosted by Emperor X Gabriel Della Notte, and Princess Royale Doris Dear, and will feature, many entertainers such as Reina, Carol Woods, T Oliver Reed, and many others. Guest speakers include: Edie Windsor and Larry Kramer.

Doris Dear was kind enough to speak to me about the event…Tickets can be purchased at www.icny.tix.com.
Doris, what will you be performing as well as co-hosting with Gary?
It is always fun to co-host with Gary. We have a special repoire that you don’t always have when doing these kinds of events. In my one woman show I tour,”Gurl Talk”, I perform a song that represents the struggle and eventual realization that I can be whoever I want to be in life.  It shows you can’t let other people force you to be something you aren’t. It’s something my mother Taffy taught me. I thought it would be uplifting and appropriate for the evening. It’s the song “I’ll Plant My Own Tree” from “Valley of the Dolls”

Can you tell us about the silent auction?
The reason for this event is to raise money. One of the ways that has been highly successful for us is to do auctions, both silent bidding and live bidding. We have some amazing jewelers that do fabulous work that are donating to us, and we have lined up some other wonderful items as well. So bring those credit cards and cash!!!

How did Orlando affect you personally?
A friend of the Imperial Court of New York was in the massacre. Edward Sotomayor Jr worked for Al and Chuck Travel who were at the ball and made a huge donation to our causes. I came out in 1975 here in New York. I lived through the AIDS crises. I lived through losing all my friends and colleges. I’ve lived through the struggles of fighting for equal rights. How much we have learned about ourselves and our community during those times. How much we have changed society. We as a community have been hurt deeply once again. We have always turned that hurt and pain into action. We are strong and we have to show that strength now for the young people behind us. The ones who didn’t know the struggle. Who have lived in a different world to show them the importance of “community” that brings us together and helps in the healing.

What exactly is “OneOrlando Fund”?
Following the horrific tragedy at Pulse, there was a tremendous outpouring from the community seeking to provide financial support to the victims and their families. In response, the mayor of Orlando, Buddy Dyer, announced the formation of the OneOrlando Fund. They wanted to ensure that funds needed for victims are dispersed in a timely, accountable and transparent manner, they formed a OneOrlando Board that will provide the oversight and guidance needed to support the victims of the Pulse tragedy and their families.

Not everyone is familiar with Edie Windsor, briefly can you tell us why she’s so important, and will she be speaking at the event?
I don’t think anyone, straight or LGBT will ever forget the date June 26, 2013 when the U.S. Supreme Court issued a 5–4 decision declaring Section 3 of DOMA to be unconstitutional “as a deprivation of the liberty of the person protected by the Fifth Amendment”. Edith “Edie” Windsor is the American LGBT rights activist and lead plaintiff in the Supreme Court of the United States case, United States vs Windsor, which successfully overturned Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and was considered a significant legal victory for the same sex marriage movement in the United States. Edie has kindly agreed to speak at our event and show her support for Orlando.

 Same question as above for Larry Kramer.
Anyone living with HIV owes Larry Kramer their lives. Larry is an academy award nominated American playwright, author, public health advocate, and LGBT rights activist. He co-founded the Gay Men’s Health Crisis (GMHC), which has become the world’s largest private organization assisting people living with AIDS. Kramer wrote the play “The Normal Heart”, which was made into an HBO movie. I actually had the honor of being asked by Larry to be in the movie as one of the Fire Island drag queens! His political activism continued with the founding of the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power (ACT UP) in 1987. He continues to fight for our rights. He has been a great supporter of the Imperial Court and has agreed to attend and speak at our benefit.

Doris if there is anything you need to add please feel free. Thank you…
This is painful time for us all as a community. It shows us how far we still have to go. The fight isn’t over. We must stand together as a community. We have come far in our fight but we still have much work to do. We cannot allow this to stop us. We must show that hate has no place in our world and will not be tolerated on any level. What happened is unacceptable and we will not stop moving forward in our quest as a community for full and equal rights for ALL!

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