Monday, September 24, 2012

The Wingspan Dinner Returns!

Posted on Mon, Sep 24, 2012 at 5:59 PM

Casey Chimneystar Condit was about 13 years old when she began to question her sexuality. And like so many LGBT teens, Condit was afraid to voice those questions to her family.

One of Condit’s closest friends spoke to her about a youth-support group at Wingspan, Southern Arizona’s LGBT community center. “My friend told me about her experience going to the support group,” Condit said. “I started feeling the rumbling of bravery in myself, and I decided to try to go, too.”

After a lot of effort, Condit defeated her fears and finally attended one of the meetings. More than 15 years after taking that first step, Condit is now Wingspan’s acting director of programs.

“She is one of Wingspan’s many success stories,” said Cynthia Garcia, a member of the Wingspan dinner committee.

Wingspan has been around for about 24 years. The organization offers a safe haven for LGBT people who have been victims of bullying, are homeless or who don’t have support from their families. Some of the services the organization provides include anti-violence programs, the Homeless Youth Project, the Eon Youth Program and Senior Pride.

The 14th annual Wingspan Dinner will help raise funds for those services. “Another purpose for the dinner is community-building,” Garcia said, “for everyone to come together and celebrate the accomplishments of the LGBT community and our allied community.”

The dinner features David Morden of the Rogue Theatre as emcee; a performance by Palm Springs, Calif.-based comedian Shann Carr; and a keynote address by Susan Stryker, the author of many books on LGBT topics, including Transgender History. She is also a professor at the University of Arizona.

During the event, Wingspan also will announce the winners of its Community Awards. Dancing and casino games will follow the dinner

“I hope people who attend the event take away tremendous memories of a joyful night,” Condit said. “I hope they take away the message that Wingspan is a thriving organization working to grow in a sphere that we need the community to be a part of.”

Admission is $125; purchase tickets before Tuesday, Sept. 25, by calling 624-1779. The dinner takes place at 7 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 29, at the JW Marriot Starr Pass Resort and Spa, 3800 W. Starr Pass Blvd.

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