The Leslie-Lohman Museum, an LGBTQIA+ art haven in Soho, held its annual gala on Monday night. It had all of the trappings of a fabulous art party: the creative class dressed creatively, a glamorous honoree, trustees galore, an open bar, circulating hors d’ouevres—as as well as ping-pong, bowling, mini-hoops, and a host of other barroom distractions.
“I’m calling this place Chelsea Cheese cause’ it’s like Chuck E. Cheese,” said musician and performance artist Christeene of the evening’s venue, Slate NY. “I don’t know what the hell’s happening, there’s games everywhere. Leave it up to the LGBTs to come up with a situation like this to celebrate some damn good people.”
The Leslie-Lohman Museum has more than 25,000 artworks spanning three centuries in its permanent collection. Its fundraiser was honoring Margaret Rose Vendryes, a museum trustee who passed away in March, and house DJ Honey Dijon, who also has her own fashion line. Dijon drew a multigenerational swath of New York’s underground club scene and was presented with her award by Louie Vega, of garage house production team Masters at Work.
In a riveting acceptance speech, Dijon recalled moving to New York and transitioning. “I never saw myself in music or art or fashion. And for many years I was looking for other people to see me before I saw myself, and I was constantly told, no,” she said. “I was disappointed I wasn’t given chances or opportunities to do anything. And so one day I just said, ‘If you’re not gonna see me, I’m gonna see my-fucking-self. And I’m going to be the fiercest bitch that you’ve ever seen behind the turntables.’ I was gonna stop asking people for shit. I don’t need your acceptance. I don’t need your validation. I need to give those things to myself. Especially for all my black trans sisters that are here.”
She finished with: “It’s great to get all the love as an artist. And it’s great to be able to do all of these creative things, but my success is that I fucking survived.”
Alyssa Nitchun, the museum’s executive director, gave a moving speech as well, and touted herself as “the first queer pansexual polyamorous BDSM-loving high femme executive director.” Also in attendance were nightclub impresario Ladyfag and her rockstar wife Skin, Pace Gallery’s Kimberly Drew, designers Jonathan Saunders and Zaldy, photographer Myles Loftin, actor Jason Rodriguez, diva nonpareil Kevin Aviance, 1980s nightlife queen Dianne Brill, and artists Carlos Motta and Tourmaline.
Here are some highlights from the festivities.
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