ST. LOUIS, Mo. - Pride St. Louis, the region's leading LGBTQIA+ organization, has announced its 2019 community service award winners. The annual accolades recognize individuals and organizations in our region who have made a remarkable difference in the LGBTQIA+ community through their work, passion and commitment.


“Each of these winners have exemplified what community means, and truly make a difference in our region. Pride St Louis is proud to honor their work and commitment,” said Pride St. Louis President, Matt Harper.


Award nominations are submitted by the community and final selections are made by the Pride St. Louis Board of Directors.


This year's recipients will be on hand to be honored and accept their award at the Community Pride Month Kick Off and Awards Celebration on Saturday, June 1, at Gallery 1014 (1014 Locust Street, 63101) from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.


The award winners will also be honored at this year's 40th anniversary PrideFest, June 29-30, in downtown St. Louis at Soldier's Memorial Park. Information on the 2019 St. Louis PrideFest and Parade can be found at PrideSTL.org


THE FELTON T. DAY AWARD
Aaron Finnegan


The Felton T. Day Community Service Award is presented to a person – not associated with Pride St. Louis – whose service to the LGBTQIA+ community has gone above and beyond, exemplifying the spirit of leadership and service in one’s community.

 AaronFinnegan
Aaron Finnegan joined the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation’s largest LGBTQIA+ civil rights organization, as a volunteer in 2014. He has served in various leadership roles and is currently one of the Governors of HRC St. Louis and member of the national executive board.


Through HRC, Aaron has partnered with numerous local organizations to help spread awareness and grow support for myriad issues pertinent to the LGBTQIA+ community. He has helped raise the capital necessary to fund our fight at the federal level, engaged in pro-equality candidate campaigns and has lobbied Capitol Hill for the federal Equality Act. In 2019 and 2020, Aaron will be the co-chair of the annual HRC Gala, one of the largest LGBTQIA+ fundraising events hosted in St. Louis.


A native of Eureka, Mo., Aaron is a Leader at Edward Jones and is currently the chair of the firm's LGBT+ and Ally Business Resource Group. The Mizzou grad helped his firm progress from a 10% score on HRC's Corporate Equality Index to a now perfect 100% score, and designation as one of the 'Best Places to Work for LGBTQ Equality' for 3 years running. Aaron now helps leaders from other local companies advance their organization's practices and policies pertinent to LGBTQIA+ workers to help foster a more inclusive, diverse and equitable corporate environment. In 2018, Aaron was recognized as one of St. Louis Business Journal's 30 Under 30 recipients for his work and success in progressing LGBTQIA+ equality within the St. Louis corporate community.


THE JIM HOEFER AWARD
The Metropolitan Community Church of Greater Saint Louis


The Jim Hoefer Award is presented to an organization that best exemplifies what it means to serve St. Louis’ LGBTQIA+ Community.

 MCCGSL1
Founded in October 1972, The Metropolitan Community Church of Greater Saint Louis is the Gateway City's first and premiere LGBTQIA+ spiritual community. Indeed, the 200+ member congregation is the church of firsts: The first church to welcome sexual and gender minorities, the first church to offer Holy Unions , the first church to legally marry a same-sex couple in Missouri, and the first church to have all of the following types of leaders: gay, lesbian, trans, poly, and gender non-conforming.


MCCGSL's Christian-based ministry boasts a progressive theology that makes space for people of all religious backgrounds. Each week, their worship service includes the admonition, “Come as you are, believing as you do.” Because of the church’s decidedly LGBTQIA+ lens, MCCGSL is home to a deep understanding of Queer Theology, the intersections of sexuality and spirituality, and an open attitude toward all the diversities that exist within our community.


MCCGSL's award-winning choir, with its unique blend of progressive lyrics, gospel-stylings, and decidedly soulful sound, performs regularly around the region. The church has housed and supported countless other non-profits, LGBTQIA+ groups, and social justice causes in its 46 years. When other churches attack LGBTQIA+ folk, MCCGSL and their clergy are always there to take a stand.


The church recently sold their Soulard building to move into shared space at 7423 Michigan Ave. in South City to better focus their energy and resources on people and ministry. MCCGSL's Lead Pastor, Rev. Wes Mullins, offers Sunday Services at 11 a.m. and they have tons of programs and groups meeting all year round.


THE CHUCK CHARLESTON AWARD
Chad Fox/Victoria Rose


The Chuck Charleston Award is presented to a former member of Pride St. Louis who has dedicated themselves and extraordinary amount of energy to ensuring that the Pride movement is further strengthened through their work both in the community and certainly on behalf of Pride St. Louis.

 ChadFox
Chad Fox is no stranger to the St. Louis LGBTQIA+ community. A powerful and strong-willed man, Chad has dedicated close to three decades of his life fighting for those like himself and all others society has historically dismissed as second class. In doing so he has become synonymous with strength, perseverance, and sacrifice.


Always striving toward a better future, Chad has devoted his time, sweat, energy, money, and yes, sometimes blood to achieving that end. Over the past 30 years Chad has stood side-by-side supporting his community as Pride St. Louis President, Pride St. Louis Vice President, Queen of Pride, and to this day continues volunteering, guiding, and shaping the organization's work for a better tomorrow.

 

As a performer, Chad's persona of Victoria Rose has been a powerhouse entertainer and fundraiser helping to break down the stigma and social norms society has placed on our community. As Co-Owner of Rehab Bar and Grill in the Grove, Chad is only gaining momentum, and always giving back to the community year after year. Chad and Rehab have grown to be an indispensible family to all, promoting a safe, welcoming, all-inclusive environment not only for the LGBTQIA+ community, but for our straight allies as well.


THE LISA WAGAMAN LIFETIME COMMUNITY SERVICE AWARD
Mike Mullen


The Lisa Wagaman Lifetime Community Service Award is presented to an individual who has spent much of their life to further the pride movement and LGBTQIA+ causes.

 MikeMullen
Mike Mullen is a veritable St. Louis institution across the LGBTQIA+ community and beyond. He even has his own official day right here in the city, which should come as no surprise, given his years of activism and philanthropic work.


Mike founded Pets Are Wonderful Support (PAWS) and has been active with St. Louis Effort for AIDS, St. Louis AIDS Memorial, the St. Louis AIDS Foundation, AIDS Walk, the Animal House Fund, and countless other charities. He also served as the HIV/AIDS liaison officer for the St. Louis mayor’s office.


A 1999 proclamation by then Mayor Clarence Harmon declared the 2nd of May as Mike Mullen Day in the city of St. Louis in recognition for his many years as an activist in the Central West End neighborhood. In 2009, a group of Mike's friends honored his day with a surprise parade for him on Euclid Avenue. That celebration morphed into an annual charity fundraising event to assist groups that lack the resources to organize their own events.


In 2017, Mike Mullen Day organizers officially broadened their efforts and established the St. Louis Mullen Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that produces fundraisers to support local charities. Mike Mullen Day remains its annual keystone event.


"The best way in the world to meet the best people is to get involved with a charity," Mike told Vital VOICE in a 2014 profile. "Stingy people don’t do nice things. You meet the kind of people who are caring, giving, generous people. Those make the best friends.”

 

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