INSPIRE Awards was pure community magic on Friday June 2nd. Attended by hundreds of members of our LGBTQ community, friends, families, allies, and the media, the theme for this year’s celebration was #WeAreFamily.

After enjoying a fantastic reception with some wonderful garden entertainment, guests made their way to the Great Hall for a seated awards ceremony hosted by the incredible Deb Pearce, who kept the audience inspired and laughing.  The ceremony had many emotional moments with many bursts of standing ovations, as the honourees took their place on stage to receive their awards.

Later in the evening the guests were back to the garden for more fabulous entertainment and dancing, until the late night show where Montreal born singer, DJ, and producer Sandy Duperval rocked the house with a set that got a few encores (check out Sandy’s interview for theBUZZ.)

From Jezebel Bardot hosting the cocktail reception impeccably, to Tasheka Lavann stunning rendition of Celine Dion’s “I’m Alive”, to Adam McMaster, a past youth recipient of the awards, on the guitar, the performers at the INSPIRE Awards wowed the crowd throughout the night. A special mention goes to Forte, Toronto Gay Men’s Chorus, singing “Pulse”, and The Yes Men group entertaining number at the after party.

The most common comments of the night were how great of a reminder the Awards are of the diversity of our community, and of our long time heroes who have done the work, while celebrating the new ones who will be carrying the torch forward.

Here are the 2017 honourees of INSPIRE Awards

International Icon Award
Omar Sharif Jr.

Lifetime Achievement Award
Debbie Douglas
J. Andrew Baker

Special Honorary Lifetime Achievement Award
Chris Edwards

Special Honorary Lifetime Achievement Award
Glen Brown

Charles Roy Award for Activism in HIV/AIDS
Alphonso King Jr.

LUX Award for the Arts
Aiyyana Maracle

TELUS LGBTQ Innovator of the Year
Jeanette Stock

Honorary LGBTQ Youth of the Year
Stella Skinner

LGBTQ Person of the Year Award recipient Morgan James, while the category included deserving nominees 
Christine Newman
Taswayne Brown
Avery Pitcher
Joey Viola

RBC LGBTQ Youth of the Year Award recipient was Erin Edgehill, while the category included deserving nominees 
Cole Ainslie
Tate Wentges
Dany Graham
Karah Kashmir

LGBTQ Positive Business of the Year Award recipient was MOJO Toronto, while the category included deserving nominees 
Akasha Art Projects
Ciarlo Communications
Striker Sports Bar
A.S. Electrolysis

Inspiring Community Organization of the Year Award was Pieces to Pathways, while the category included deserving nominees 
Nuit Rose
Black CAP
Arabian Knights LGBTQ
Ontario Pride Network

About the Author

Bryen Dunn is a freelance journalist with a focus on travel, lifestyle, entertainment and hospitality. He has an extensive portfolio of celebrity interviews with musicians, actors and other public personalities. He enjoys discovering delicious eats, tasting spirited treats, and being mesmerized by musical beats.