Dave Pittock, a violence survivor and a member of the Anti-Violence Project's Speakers Bureau. | SOCIAL + DIARIST/ COURTESY AVP
The New York City Anti-Violence Project, which combats violence and domestic abuse aimed at the LGBT and AIDS-affected communities, held its 16th annual Courage Awards at Studio 450 on West 31st Street on September 27. An agency headed by Sharon Stapel with a budget less than $3 million dollars and a full-time staff of 23, AVP fielded more than 2,600 hotline calls, provided 5,000 trainings, and enrolled 195 new volunteers over the past year –– oh, and was also recognized as a Champion of Change by the White House.
The evening honored the Verizon Hopeline, which helps survivors of domestic abuse and was represented by Elva Lima, the company’s executive director of community relations and multicultural communications; the Interbank Roundtable, an LGBT financial services group that helps out with AVP programs and was represented by Andrew Wallace of UBS and Scott Hernandez of Deutsche Bank; and Tony Award-winning actor B.D. Wong.
The most gripping moments of the evening came when violence survivor Dave Pittock, who now works with AVP’s Speakers Bureau, talked about how as a transplant from Nebraska, his “bubble was burst” when he was beaten up and had anti-gay slurs hurled at him outside a Brooklyn bar. With half of his face smashed, he had metal inserted to remedy the damage, which led his friends to dub him “Robo Homo.”
AVP honoree B.D. Wong, a Tony Award-winning stage, film, and TV actor. | SOCIAL + DIARIST/ COURTESY AVP
“At AVP, I realized I really didn’t’ have to go through this alone,” Pittock told the crowd. “The Speakers Bureau gave me a sense of empowerment. It gave me a voice to take action. I’d like to thank AVP for that, for giving me my voice back.”
Accepting his award immediately after that, Wong said it was Pittock –– and not he –– who deserved recognition for courage. Then reminding everyone why support for AVP is so critical, Wong said, “I will say something unpopular. We will never eradicate violence. We are a community that is very special and people do not like that.“