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Wanda Sykes, Detroit City Football Club honored at Ruth Ellis Center 2019 gala

Ruth Ellis Center honors Wanda Sykes, DCFC at 2019 gala.

Launched in 1999 as a safe space for LGBTQ+ youth in Highland Park, the Ruth Ellis Center is now in its 20th year in operation.

The center has four facilities in Highland Park and Detroit. The center provides a multitude of services for LGBTQ+ youth in the Midwest. Those services range from outreach, primary and behavior health care, case management, skill-building workshops, HIV prevention programs and family preservation programs.

“The Ruth Ellis Center has been a safe haven for Detroit’s LGBTQ+ young people, providing critical services to help them build strong futures. Cadillac is honored to support that work and celebrate the center’s 20-year commitment to the rise of the LGBTQ+ community in Detroit,” said Melissa Grady, Cadillac CMO.

The center honored actress and writer Wanda Sykes with the Legacy Award. The award is meant to honor people who embody the "spirit, grace and generosity of the nonprofit organization's namesake," according to a news release.

The center's namesake was an African-American lesbian who opened her home to members of the LGBTQ community in Detroit as early as the 1930s. Past legacy award honorers include Lily Tomlin and Margaret Cho.

“I am truly humbled for the recognition from this incredible organization whose support of LGBTQ youth has always inspired me. The Ruth Ellis Center prepares them for life on their own and, in doing so, propels them to become even stronger, more resilient voices than they’ve already proven themselves to be, which is something we need now more than ever,” Sykes said.

Youth Impact Award Honorees

The Ruth Ellis Center Youth Impact Awards honored D.J. Shangela Pierce and singer/songwriter Shea Diamond for "providing visibility, inspiration and hope to LGBTQ+ youth people nationwide."

Pierce is gay and a three-season contestant on RuPaul's Drag Race. Flint native Shea Diamond is a transgender woman who is set to release her debut album through Asylum Records.

Through Prideraiser, Detroit City Football Club and the Northern Guard Supporter's annual LGBTQ+ Pride Fundraiser raised more than $26,000 for the Ruth Ellis Center in 2019.

"On and off the field, inclusivity has been at the heart of Detroit City Football Club from the beginning. They added that they couldn’t be prouder of Northern Guard Supporters for their work in supporting Ruth Ellis Center through this year’s Prideraiser campaign," according to the news release.

(Kayla Clarke/WDIV)

About the Author:

Kayla Clarke

Kayla is a web producer with an English degree from Michigan State University. Before joining the ClickOnDetroit team in 2018, she worked at WILX in Lansing as a digital producer.