Greater Palm Springs Pride announced recipients of the annual Pride Honors Awards, a beacon of recognition for outstanding contributions to the LGBTQ+ community and its allies. Award recipients will be celebrated at a ceremony on Monday, October 16, 2023, at the Hilton Palm Springs. The awards announcement marks the approach of Pride Week in the region under the theme of “Drag Now. Drag Forever!”
The awards recognize the tireless efforts of six individuals and one organization who have advanced the cause of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer individuals, shaping a more inclusive world for all.
Spirit of Stonewall Lifetime Achievement Award: Donald Beck
Spirit of Stonewall Organization of the Year: Brothers of the Desert
Spirit of Stonewall Community Service Award: Miss Patsi
Spirit of Stonewall Volunteer of the Year: Beverly Sweigart
Stonewall Spirit of Pride Award: Jase Nagaia
Spirit of Stonewall Friend of Pride: Greg and Dee Dee Barton
“This is not a group that seeks attention or applause. They quietly serve, and we are grateful for the profound impact they have had and continue to have in our community,” said Ron deHarte, President and CEO of Greater Palm Springs Pride.
“The awards ceremony promises to be a night of inspiration and celebration, bringing together LGBTQ+ activists, allies, and supporters from all walks of life. Recipients embody the spirit of Pride, and their work has created positive change. We are proud to honor these champions of diversity, unity, and love,” added deHarte.
Spirit of Stonewall Lifetime Achievement Award – Donald Beck
At a time when healthcare and social service providers were slow in responding to the HIV epidemic, Donald was one of eight staunch supporters who took the bold first steps to establish an AIDS support and educational organization that would become known as the Desert AIDS Project. The vision Donald and the other founders had to create a place where people could find emotional support in a society that was essentially fearful of AIDS and scornful of those who had it continues today as DAP Health.
Spirit of Stonewall Organization of the Year – Brothers of the Desert
Established in 2017 by a group of Black gay men in response to shared feelings of isolation and disconnection, the Brothers of the Desert has thrived in their mission to nurture and support Black gay men and allies through education, advocacy, social networking, volunteerism, philanthropy, and mentorship.
Community engagement includes an annual Wellness Summit, Brothers Got Talent, a quarterly social event; publishing Drumbeat, a monthly newsletter; and hosting a speaker series. They also host events for Martin Luther King Day, Black History Month, and Juneteenth. They have also dedicated more than $10,000 to support four scholarship programs for Black and LGBTQ+ student success and created a member support fund, and a discussion group series for Black gay men over 50.
The 75-member organization includes Black men who identify as gay, queer, bisexual, or same-gender loving and allies of any race, gender, or sexual orientation who support or contribute to the well-being of Black gay men.
Spirit of Stonewall Community Service Award – Miss Patsi
Since the early 1980s, Miss Patsi, an illusion of Patsy Cline, was created by Thommy Kocan to raise funds for charity. Patsi has won multiple royalty titles within Gay Rodeo Circuits, and funds she raised supported rodeo events for the LGBTQ+ Communities.
Having retired, Patsi now invites hundreds of guests for dinner at various restaurants for Dinner with Patsi. By collecting “spare change” from attendees, Miss Patsi has raised $100,000 for local charities. This year, the official Cathedral City choir asked Miss Patsi to help lead the effort to raise funds needed to send the high school choir to Ireland. Patsi rallied the community and raised the $80,000 the choir needed.
Spirit of Stonewall Volunteer of the Year – Beverly Sweigart
As a teenager, lacking strong family relationships and raising herself, she learned even small acts of kindness could change a person’s life. Her passion has always been volunteering to help those in need. Beverly’s first charity fundraiser was in 1984 for the family of a gay friend who passed away from AIDS. She’s organized and hosted a variety of events, to raise funds for animal shelters, the homeless, senior centers, youth organizations, community theater, and muscular dystrophy, HIV/AIDS, and cancer-related organizations.
Even after Beverly was diagnosed with a life-threatening disease, she never wavered from her quest to help others. For the last seven years she has supported local charities through her organization Palm Springs Crave. Beneficiaries include L-Fund, Well in The Desert, Palm Springs Sanctuary, Palm Springs Women’s Jazz Festival, HRC, DAP Health, and Palm Springs Pride.
Stonewall Spirit of Pride Award – Jase Nagaia
Jase Nagaia is a native Californian whose passion for fitness, dedication to serving the community, and inclusivity are helping to change the landscape of wellness in Palm Springs.
Jase, a recognized fitness instructor, saw the need for an inclusive fitness environment and created “Endeavor with Jase,” a unique and free low-impact cardio class. His experience overcoming hurdles in the fitness industry profoundly influenced the development of his classes. He created a haven where individuals from all walks of life could embark on their wellness journey without inhibitions and feel seen, heard, and valued.
As a person of color and a member of the LGBTQ community, he uses the wisdom of overcoming adversity to foster a fitness environment that empowers participants to focus without the hindrance of self-doubt or exclusion.
Spirit of Stonewall Friend of Pride – Greg and Dee Dee Barton
Greg Barton and Dee Dee Wilson Barton, co-founders of Barton, CPA, opened their Palm Springs accounting firm in 2007 to bring their expertise in registered domestic partnerships to the LGBTQ community and to serve clients across the United States. Inclusivity and human rights are the core values of the firm. True allies Greg and Dee Dee have long supported their teen, now 22-year-old daughter, through a positive introduction to living life as an LGBTQ individual.
Their community and philanthropical focus are on the LGBTQ community, women, children and education, medical assistance to low-income individuals, people experiencing homelessness, and food insecurity.
Over the last five years, their commitment to the LGBTQ community has included being the top sponsor of the Harvey Milk Diversity Breakfast. Year after year, they are moved and inspired as 300 young people are bussed in to learn about Harvey Milk.
Dee Dee has served as Chair of the Palm Springs Human Rights Commission and as a board member of The Foundation for Palm Springs Unified School District. The Bartons also support The LGBTQ Community Center of the Desert.
Sponsors: The Pride Honors Awards have been made possible by the support from the Desert Care Network, Hilton Palm Springs, and La Crema Wines.
Tickets: Tickets for the October 16 awards reception are available at pspride.org under the events menu or via this link.