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PFLAG NYC Annual Gala to Honor Five-Time Tony Winner Audra McDonald for Gay Rights Advocacy

— Audra McDonald Joins the PFLAG NYC “Stay Close” Family of Celebrity Allies —

— PFLAG NYC Awards to Highlight Growth of Anti-Bullying Safe Schools Program —

NEW YORK , Oct. 12, 2012 /PRNewswire/ –?PFLAG NYC (Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays of New York City ) is proud to announce Audra McDonald as the featured honoree at the 32nd Annual PFLAG NYC Awards Gala to be held on Monday, October 15 , at Tribeca Three Sixty in New York City . Ms. McDonald will receive the PFLAG NYC “Stay Close” Leadership Award in recognition of her years advocating full equality for all lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people and for her participation in the PFLAG NYC “Stay?Close” campaign which features straight celebrities appearing with their LGBT loved ones.

“Bobby and Andy have been there for me at so many important points in my life,” explains Ms. McDonald about her godfathers, Bobby Wilson and Andy Gale , who are gay and with whom she will appear in a new “Stay Close” portrait to be unveiled at the PFLAG NYC gala. “I love them so much. I don’t know what I would do without them.”

“Stay Close” is a communications effort launched by PFLAG NYC to raise awareness for the organization and its mission to help LGBT people and their families. The campaign is based on a simple truth: Life is about relationships, and relationships with our loved ones are too precious to lose merely because someone is gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender. With her “Stay Close” portrait, Ms. McDonald joins an esteemed and star-studded roster of PFLAG NYC allies, including Cyndi Lauper , Ben Affleck , and Rosario Dawson .

The PFLAG NYC Awards Gala will benefit the Safe Schools Program, where parents and LGBT speakers work with classrooms of middle and high school students across the city. ?In the past two years, Safe Schools has spoken to over 8,000 students in the five boroughs, sharing family stories and engaging students in what, for many of them, is the first open and respectful conversation they have had about LGBT issues. “Bringing the Safe Schools Program to our students has made a huge difference in how they relate to one another and has helped to create a much more respectful environment for everyone,” said Jim Tierney , a middle school English teacher at the Paula Hedbavny School in Washington Heights , Manhattan . Speakers often use the celebrity power of the “Stay Close” campaign to inspire dialogue with students, and to demonstrate that LGBT people can be a part of loving, supportive families.

In addition to Audra McDonald , City Councilmember Daniel Dromm, the first openly gay teacher in NYC and a longtime advocate for LGBT rights will also receive a PFLAG NYC “Stay Close” Leadership Award for his many accomplishments on behalf of the LGBT community. And for the first time, this year’s gala will present the PFLAG NYC Safe Schools Leadership Award to an educator who has promoted understanding and acceptance in order to create a climate where all students can thrive.

Major national and New York corporations help support the work of PFLAG NYC in the schools, directly helping keep families together when a young person comes out as LGBT. JetBlue Airways, New York ‘s Hometown Airline?, is the Platinum Sponsor of the dinner for the seventh consecutive year, and MetLife is also a lead sponsor.

The cocktail hour, VIP reception and silent auction will begin at 6 p.m. , followed by a dinner and awards program, all happening on Monday, October 15 at the glamorous Tribeca Three Sixty, 10 Desbrosses St., overlooking the Hudson River in Manhattan .

About PFLAG New York City

PFLAG NYC is the founding chapter of Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG), the nation’s foremost family-based organization committed to the civil rights of LGBT people. It has more than 250,000 members and supporters in 500 chapters throughout the United States .

In New York City , PFLAG NYC runs programs and services to promote the well-being and equality of LGBT people and their families. The Support Program provides information, peer support and community-based assistance to preserve relationships within families when someone comes out as LGBT and to help LGBT people whose families are not accepting. The Safe Schools Program extends PFLAG NYC’s support into the educational community by working with teachers, principals, counselors, and students to ensure LGBT youth are safe and successful in school. PFLAG NYC also runs the award-winning, public awareness and education campaign, “Stay Close” (www.stayclose.org), which features straight celebrities along with their LGBT family members. PFLAG NYC is a strong advocate for LGBT equality in the public arena and has helped advance LGBT civil rights on issues ranging from the protection of LGBT students in school to marriage equality. For further information, visit our website at www.pflagnyc.org.

About Audra McDonald

Audra McDonald is unparalleled in the breadth and versatility of her artistry as both a singer and an actress. With a record-tying five Tony Awards, two Grammy Awards, and a long list of other accolades to her name, she is among today’s most highly regarded performers. Blessed with a luminous soprano and an incomparable gift for dramatic truth-telling, she is equally at home on Broadway and opera stages as in roles on film and television. In addition to her theatrical work, she maintains a major career as a concert and recording artist, regularly appearing on the great stages of the world and with leading international orchestras.

After four seasons playing Dr. Naomi Bennett on ABC’s hit television series Private Practice, McDonald returned to Broadway in 2012, winning her fifth Tony and her first in the leading actress category for her role in The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess. The honor places her in the illustrious company of Broadway legends Julie Harris and Angela Lansbury as the only people in Tony history to win five performance awards.

Born into a musical family, McDonald grew up in Fresno, California and received her classical vocal training at the Juilliard School . An ardent proponent of marriage equality, McDonald sits on the advisory board of the advocacy organization Broadway Impact and has been featured in campaigns for Freedom to Marry and NOH8. Of all her many roles, her favorite is that of mother to her daughter, Zoe Madeline .