Indigo Ball to honor LGBT seniors

Indigo Ball to honor LGBT seniors

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 William Way LGBT Community Center is looking to raise $100,000 at its annual fundraising gala, which this year is honoring LGBTQ seniors.

Indigo Ball, the center’s biggest fundraiser of the year, chose the theme “Golden Years” because “senior programs are a huge focus at the center,” said Chris Bartlett, William Way’s executive director.

“Seniors — whether they are volunteers, program participants or senior organizations — have had a major impact on the center,” he said. “We wanted to acknowledge the people and organizations that keep those programs thriving and help us to keep our doors open.” 

Erin Busbee, the center’s interim development director, said Indigo Ball guests are encouraged to wear silver and gold at the black-tie-optional event to represent “the best years of life.”

“The Golden theme adds to the aesthetics of the event but, more importantly, it’s a reflection of the people within our community who have impacted change, been a part of history and impart knowledge to those doing work after them,” said Busbee.

The Indigo Ball debuted in 1999 and was developed by the center’s second executive director, Claire Baker. The event originally was intended to support women in the LGBTQ community. In 2003, then-executive director Dolph Ward Goldenburg revived the event to fundraise for the center. Proceeds typically go toward operating expenses and programming.

Each year, the center honors individuals and organizations in service to the community. Past honorees include The Attic Youth Center, LGBTQ activist Mel Heifetz and Stevie Martin-Chester of Men of All Colors Together-Philadelphia.

This year’s Indigo Ball honorees are:

Lifetime Achievement: Les Harrison, legendary drag performer

Humanitarian: John Cunningham, LGBTQ activist and cofounder of the AIDS Library of Philadelphia

Community Partners: AARP and the Philadelphia Corporation for Aging

John J. Wilcox, Jr. Leadership and Service: Steve Brando, former William Way board member

Unsung Hero: Marty Sellers, founder and CEO of Sellers Dorsey

Live entertainment will include a special performance by Les Harrison, Philadelphia’s first African-American drag performer. DJ Robert Drake will provide the music. 

The 2018 Indigo Ball: Golden Years will be held at the Academy of the Fine Arts 6-11:30 p.m. Oct. 13. To purchase tickets, visit

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