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Archive for the ‘Charities’ Category

SAGE honors Vilanch, Jewel Thais-Williams in L.A.

Friday, March 24th, 2017

Washington Blade
SAGE honors Vilanch, Jewel Thais-Williams in L.A.
March 10, 2017 at 11:38 am EDT | by Karen Ocamb

Bruce_Vilanch_and_Jewel_Thais-Williams_insert

LOS ANGELES — The fundraiser for SAGE USA March 4 in the Hollywood Hills felt like a reunion, a coming together of a generation of LGBT people with shared memories and a desire to confront aging, an issue, SAGE Board Development chair Bill Weinberger said, he heretofore had avoided thinking about. Honorees Jewel Thais-Williams and Bruce Vilanch, however, exemplify how LGBT people can age as respected elders with grace, continued activism, and humor.


Weinberger introduced Phill Wilson, founder of the Black AIDS Institute, whom he has known since the early 1980s. Shortly after, Wilson discovered he was HIV positive. He noted that while “many of us were dealing with whether we would survive or not, SAGE has always believed we would.” Wilson shared how Thais-Williams bravely opened Jewel’s Catch One Disco as a refuge for LGBT people desperate for a place where they could be themselves.


“Jewel has been a leader, a hero, and a visionary and an advocate for a long, long time,” Wilson said. “Jewel was one of those ‘bridge’ people,” linking the LGBT African-American community to organizations such as AIDS Project Los Angeles and her alma mater, UCLA. You always speak up, whether you’re afraid or not.”


Thais-Williams joked that she was honored to be honored, having spent the last 42 years at Catch One “partying,” adding that she will turn 78 in a couple of months. “To be of service to my community has been a great joy,” she said. “But there is still a lot of work to do. Remember to always reach out to those in need.”


“There has never been a more important time to come together,” SAGE CEO Michael Adams told the diverse crowd of SAGE board members, staffers and supporters at the elegant home of James Frost and William Yi. “We are living in very challenging times,” a notion received with a knowing chuckle for its understatement.


A civilization is historically measured by how it cares and supports its children and most vulnerable and how it supports its elders, Adams said, not just the “right kind of elders….We owe it to our elders, the pioneers who paved the way for the equality we celebrate today….We need the wisdom of our pioneers, our elders.”




Demographic estimates predict that there will be 6 million LGBT people age 65 years or over in America by 2030. That sets the stage for a potentially disastrous future since, as SAGE notes, LGBT seniors are “twice as likely to be single, twice as likely to live alone, and four times more likely to be without children than their heterosexual peers.”  And, Adam said, facilities that take care of the aging population are “woefully unprepared” to take care of LGBT seniors who fear having to go back in the closet in order to get care and treatment without discrimination.


In introducing comedic writer/actor Bruce Vilanch, SAGE Board co-chair Elizabeth Schwartz—whose co-chair is former LA-based board activist Kevin Williams—said Vilanch’s appearances on “Hollywood Squares” were “instrumental in shaping gay images.” Watching him, “we didn’t have to speculate obsessively” about whether he was gay “as I did over Kristy McNichol.”  She was also grateful that he was also out about being chubby. Vilanch, she said, has a “tireless dedication to the LGBT community.”


In accepting the handsomely shaped glass award, the legendary Oscar writer said that when he was told he was being honored by SAGE, his first thought was: “You have the wrong envelope,” referring to the Best Picture mishap at the Academy Awards.


However, a recent interview with a young journalist underscored that he is now arcing “into my dotage.” The young gay man had no idea who Ted Mack was, though “Ted Mack’s Amateur Hour,” the variety-show precursor to shows like “American Idol,” launched the careers of such future celebrities as Pat Boone and Ann-Margret.  The young man sat stone faced at the mention of her name.


“When queens don’t know who Ann-Margret is, we’re in trouble,” Vilanch said to an uproar of laughter.


“Senior gays are not venerated,” he said. “But we are valued because we can pick up the check or write it.”


As to his decision to be openly gay at a time when being out was a brave decision, Vilanch noted that he worked in the more accepting entertainment industry. But early on, he worked as a journalist writing features for the Chicago Tribune and tried to get gay stories into the paper. Vilanch cited a quote that stuck with him: “A faggot is a homosexual gentleman who just left the room.” He determined to be “the faggot who stayed in the room.”


LGBT progress is result of taking action. “We did the bravest thing—we came out and that changed everything,” Vilanch said. But the LGBT community cannot rely on help from outside. “We have to do it for ourselves….[and] we’re not done yet.”


SAGE CEO Michael Adams also announced the launch of a new initiative in conjunction with AARP—SAGETable— to build “intergenerational connections in the LGBT community” by “breaking bread with your LGBT family on May 18. Visit sagetable.org.

SAGE honors Vilanch, Jewel Thais-Williams in L.A.

Sunday, March 12th, 2017

Washington Blade
SAGE honors Vilanch, Jewel Thais-Williams in L.A.
March 10, 2017 at 11:38 am EDT | by Karen Ocamb

Bruce_Vilanch_and_Jewel_Thais-Williams_insert

LOS ANGELES — The fundraiser for SAGE USA March 4 in the Hollywood Hills felt like a reunion, a coming together of a generation of LGBT people with shared memories and a desire to confront aging, an issue, SAGE Board Development chair Bill Weinberger said, he heretofore had avoided thinking about. Honorees Jewel Thais-Williams and Bruce Vilanch, however, exemplify how LGBT people can age as respected elders with grace, continued activism, and humor.


Weinberger introduced Phill Wilson, founder of the Black AIDS Institute, whom he has known since the early 1980s. Shortly after, Wilson discovered he was HIV positive. He noted that while “many of us were dealing with whether we would survive or not, SAGE has always believed we would.” Wilson shared how Thais-Williams bravely opened Jewel’s Catch One Disco as a refuge for LGBT people desperate for a place where they could be themselves.


“Jewel has been a leader, a hero, and a visionary and an advocate for a long, long time,” Wilson said. “Jewel was one of those ‘bridge’ people,” linking the LGBT African-American community to organizations such as AIDS Project Los Angeles and her alma mater, UCLA. You always speak up, whether you’re afraid or not.”


Thais-Williams joked that she was honored to be honored, having spent the last 42 years at Catch One “partying,” adding that she will turn 78 in a couple of months. “To be of service to my community has been a great joy,” she said. “But there is still a lot of work to do. Remember to always reach out to those in need.”


“There has never been a more important time to come together,” SAGE CEO Michael Adams told the diverse crowd of SAGE board members, staffers and supporters at the elegant home of James Frost and William Yi. “We are living in very challenging times,” a notion received with a knowing chuckle for its understatement.


A civilization is historically measured by how it cares and supports its children and most vulnerable and how it supports its elders, Adams said, not just the “right kind of elders….We owe it to our elders, the pioneers who paved the way for the equality we celebrate today….We need the wisdom of our pioneers, our elders.”




Demographic estimates predict that there will be 6 million LGBT people age 65 years or over in America by 2030. That sets the stage for a potentially disastrous future since, as SAGE notes, LGBT seniors are “twice as likely to be single, twice as likely to live alone, and four times more likely to be without children than their heterosexual peers.”  And, Adam said, facilities that take care of the aging population are “woefully unprepared” to take care of LGBT seniors who fear having to go back in the closet in order to get care and treatment without discrimination.


In introducing comedic writer/actor Bruce Vilanch, SAGE Board co-chair Elizabeth Schwartz—whose co-chair is former LA-based board activist Kevin Williams—said Vilanch’s appearances on “Hollywood Squares” were “instrumental in shaping gay images.” Watching him, “we didn’t have to speculate obsessively” about whether he was gay “as I did over Kristy McNichol.”  She was also grateful that he was also out about being chubby. Vilanch, she said, has a “tireless dedication to the LGBT community.”


In accepting the handsomely shaped glass award, the legendary Oscar writer said that when he was told he was being honored by SAGE, his first thought was: “You have the wrong envelope,” referring to the Best Picture mishap at the Academy Awards.


However, a recent interview with a young journalist underscored that he is now arcing “into my dotage.” The young gay man had no idea who Ted Mack was, though “Ted Mack’s Amateur Hour,” the variety-show precursor to shows like “American Idol,” launched the careers of such future celebrities as Pat Boone and Ann-Margret.  The young man sat stone faced at the mention of her name.


“When queens don’t know who Ann-Margret is, we’re in trouble,” Vilanch said to an uproar of laughter.


“Senior gays are not venerated,” he said. “But we are valued because we can pick up the check or write it.”


As to his decision to be openly gay at a time when being out was a brave decision, Vilanch noted that he worked in the more accepting entertainment industry. But early on, he worked as a journalist writing features for the Chicago Tribune and tried to get gay stories into the paper. Vilanch cited a quote that stuck with him: “A faggot is a homosexual gentleman who just left the room.” He determined to be “the faggot who stayed in the room.”


LGBT progress is result of taking action. “We did the bravest thing—we came out and that changed everything,” Vilanch said. But the LGBT community cannot rely on help from outside. “We have to do it for ourselves….[and] we’re not done yet.”


SAGE CEO Michael Adams also announced the launch of a new initiative in conjunction with AARP—SAGETable— to build “intergenerational connections in the LGBT community” by “breaking bread with your LGBT family on May 18. Visit sagetable.org.

‘One Starry Night’ Raises 200k For ALS

Friday, May 8th, 2015

Broadway World
Renee Zellweger and More Attend ‘ONE STARRY NIGHT’ Benefit for ALS Association
May 5, 2015

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“One Starry Night: From Broadway to Hollywood,” a one-night-only musical and entertainment extravaganza in benefit of the ALS Association Golden West Chapter, was presented Monday, April 20 at the historic Pasadena Playhouse in Pasadena, CA. Thanks to performances and appearances by an exciting gathering of Broadway and Hollywood talent, and the greater Los Angeles community at large, the evening raised nearly $200,000. BWW TV’s Los Angeles Correspondent and Co-Producer Michael Sterling, along with Co-Producer/Videographer Paul Preston of Digital Mind Productions, spoke to the stars as they walked the red carpet prior to the evening’s festivities!

The star-studded event featured a cast which (in alphabetical order) included Emmy and Golden Globe-winning actor Ed Asner, Broadway’s Brent Barrett (“Silence The Musical”, “Chicago The Musical”), Grammy Award winner and international recording icon Petula Clark, Micky Dolenz (“The Monkees”), Juliana Hansen (Disney musical and concert star; NBC’s “Grease, You’re The One That I Want!”), singer/songwriter Devin Kelly, television and film star Jean Louisa Kelly (“Yes, Dear”; “Mr. Holland’s Opus”), noted television comedienne Wendy Liebman, TV, Film and Theatre star Bethany Joy Lenz, Broadway’s Norm Lewis (Phantom of the Opera), TV and Film star Kate Linder (“The Young and the Restless”), Musical Theatre star Lisa Livesay (“Wicked”), Ben Mankiewicz ((Film critic and Turner Classic Movie Network host), Film and TV star Heather McComb , Grammy Award-winning singer/songwriter Melissa Manchester, George Newbern (ABC TV’s “Scandal”), Broadway’s Kerry O’Malley (“White Christmas”, “Annie Get Your Gun”; “Showstoppers”/Wynn Hotel/Las Vegas), Timothy Omundson (ABC TV’s “Galavant”), Reagan Pasternak (Disney Channel’s “In A Heartbeat,”), Illusionist Jonathan Pendragon, Broadway and TV’s Eric Petersen (Shrek and TV’s “Kirstie” starrin Kirstie Alley), Jenna Lea Rosen (Disney TV’s “Sofia the First”), Jason Ritter (NBC’s “Parenthood”), Richard Sherman (Academy Award-winning Composer Disney’s “Mary Poppins”, “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang”, “The Jungle Book”), Bruce Vilanch (Broadway’s ” Hairspray”), and Academy Award and Golden Globe winner Renee Zellweger.

In addition to the performances, the Chapter’s Essey Awards were presented to notable supporters of the ALS community for their outstanding efforts in public awareness, care services, and research. The Essey Award is the Chapter’s highest honor and given annually in honor of one of the Chapter’s founding members, Richard Essey.

The Golden West Chapter recognized the following honorees for outstanding achievements in the fight against ALS:

THE 2015 SPOTLIGHT AWARD- The Filmmakers of “The Theory of Everything”

The Spotlight Award was presented to individuals and companies who help to raise ALS awareness by educating the public about the experience of living with ALS and the impact the disease has on loved ones and caregivers. The Golden West Chapter proudly presented this year’s Spotlight Award to the filmmakers of the Academy Award-winning film, “The Theory of Everything.” The movie, its cast and crew, the companies behind its production, and its real-life subjects – the Hawking family – have inspired the ALS community.

THE 2015 SPIRIT AWARD- Richard Glatzer & Wash Westmoreland, Writers/Directors of “Still Alice”

The Spirit Award was presented to individuals who have displayed extraordinary determination while living with ALS. Richard Glatzer, who recently lost his battle with ALS, along with his husband Wash Westmoreland, adapted and directed, “Still Alice,” earning Julianne Moore a 2015 Academy Award. Shortly before receiving the green light to begin production on the film, Richard was diagnosed with ALS, yet both he and Wash persevered to complete their work on this acclaimed project. As a part of the Spirit Award’s presentation and tribute to Richard and Wash, the event was pleased to have Emmy and Golden Globe Award-winner Ed Asner and George Newbern (ABC’s “Scandal”) performing an excerpt from “Tuesdays with Morrie.”

In addition, the Golden West Chapter celebrated Cedars-Sinai Medical Center for having earned the distinguished designation as an ALS Association Certified Treatment Center of Excellence. Cedars-Sinai Medical Center is the only Certified Treatment Center of Excellence in southern California, and a flagship program in the country. Renee Zellweger presented the Cedars’ team with a plaque recognizing this outstanding achievement and Cedar’s commitment to ALS care and the search for an effective treatment and cure.

Produced by Juliana Hansen, Melissa Verdugo and Jonathan White, the evening was directed by Grammy Award-nominee and distinguished theatre director Bruce Kimmel directed, with musical direction and orchestrations provided by Richard Allen.

Proceeds from the event will provide funding for The ALS Association Golden West Chapter’s mission critical priorities in care services, public policy and cutting-edge global research toward treatments and cure for ALS. For further information, visit webgw.alsa.org or call (800) 750-2572.


Bruce Vilanch, Renee Zellweger, Richard Sherman & More Set for ONE STARRY NIGHT ALS Benefit at The Pasadena Playhouse

Tuesday, March 31st, 2015

Bruce Vilanch, Renee Zellweger, Richard Sherman & More Set for ONE STARRY NIGHT ALS Benefit at The Pasadena Playhouse
March 30, 2015
by BWW News Desk

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The ALS Association Golden West Chapter recently announce the honorees for its 2015 Gala – “One Starry Night: From Broadway to Hollywood,”a musical and entertainment extravaganza to be held on Monday, April 20 at the Pasadena Playhouse.

Today, it was announced that the star-studded event will feature (in alphabetical order) Emmy and Golden Globe-winning actor Ed Asner, Micky Dolenz (“The Monkees”), Juliana Hansen (NBC’s “Grease, You’re The One That I Want!”), Jean Louisa Kelly (“Mr. Holland’s Opus”), Wendy Liebman (“The Aristocrats”), Kate Linder (CBS’ “The Young and the Restless”), Kerry O’Malley (Broadway’s Into The Woods), Timothy Omundson (ABC’s “Galavant”), Reagan Pasternak (Disney Channel’s “In A Heartbeat,”), Jonathan Pendragon (NBC’s “World’s Greatest Magician”), Jason Ritter (NBC’s “Parenthood”), Richard Sherman (Academy Award-winning Composer Disney’s “Mary Poppins”, “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang”, “The Jungle Book”), Bruce Vilanch (Broadway’s ” Hairspray”), Academy Award-winning actress Renee Zellweger, and more to be announced! Proceeds will provide funding for The ALS Association Golden West Chapter’s mission critical priorities in care services, public policy, and cutting-edge global research toward treatments and cure for ALS.

This one-night-only benefit features performances and appearances by an exciting gathering of Broadway and Hollywood talent. In addition to the show, the chapter’s The Essey Awards will be presented to notable supporters of the ALS community for their outstanding efforts in public awareness, care services, and research. The Golden West Chapter’s Essey Award is the highest honor and is given annually to esteemed members of the ALS community. It is, named in honor of one of the Chapter’s founding members, Richard Essey.

The Golden West Chapter is proud to recognize the following honorees for outstanding achievements in the fight against ALS:

THE 2015 SPOTLIGHT AWARD- The Filmmakers of “The Theory of Everything”
The Spotlight Award is presented to individuals and companies who help to raise ALS awareness by educating the public about the experience of living with ALS and the impact the disease has on loved ones and caregivers. The Golden West Chapter proudly presents this year’s Spotlight Award to the filmmakers of the Academy Award-winning film, “The Theory of Everything.” The movie, its cast and crew, the companies behind its production, and its real-life subjects – the Hawking family – have inspired the ALS community. – THE 2015 SPIRIT AWARD- Richard Glatzer & Wash Westmoreland, Writers/Directors of “Still Alice”
The Spirit Award is presented to individuals who have displayed extraordinary determination while living with ALS. Richard Glatzer, who recently lost his battle with ALS, along with his husband Wash Westmoreland, adapted and directed, “Still Alice,” earning Julianne Moore a 2015 Academy Award. Shortly before receiving the green light to begin production on the film, Richard was diagnosed with ALS, yet both he and Wash persevered to complete their work on this acclaimed project. As a part of the Spirit Award’s presentation and tribute to Richard and Wash, we are pleased to have Emmy and Golden Globe Award-winner Ed Asner and George Newbern (ABC’s “Scandal”) performing an excerpt from “Tuesdays with Morrie.”

In addition, the Golden West Chapter will celebrate Cedars-Sinai Medical Center for having earned the distinguished designation as an ALS Association Certified Treatment Center of Excellence. Cedars-Sinai Medical Center is the only Certified Treatment Center of Excellence in southern California, and a flagship program in the country. Academy Award-winning actress Renee Zellweger will participate in presenting the Cedars’ team with a plaque recognizing this outstanding achievement and Cedar’s commitment to ALS care and the search for an effective treatment and cure.

Grammy Award-nominee Bruce Kimmel will direct the production, with musical direction and orchestrations provided by Richard Allen. This star-studded event has a growing cast list which includes (in alphabetical order) Emmy and Golden Globe-winning actor Ed Asner, Micky Dolenz (“The Monkees”), Juliana Hansen (NBC’s “Grease, You’re The One That I Want!”), Jean Louisa Kelly (“Mr. Holland’s Opus”), Wendy Liebman (“The Aristocrats”), Timothy Omundson (ABC’s “Galavant”), Reagan Pasternak (Disney Channel’s “In A Heartbeat,”), Jason Ritter (NBC’s “Parenthood”), Richard Sherman (Academy Award-winning Composer Disney’s “Mary Poppins”, “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang”, “The Jungle Book”), Bruce Vilanch (Broadway’s ” Hairspray”), Academy Award-winning actress Renee Zellweger, and more to be announced. The evening will also include a pre-show silent auction and reception, and post show dessert with a special “meet-and-greet” with the cast. Proceeds will provide funding for The ALS Association Golden West Chapter’s mission critical priorities in care services, public policy, and cutting-edge global research toward treatments and cure for ALS. For tickets and more information, please visit our website.

For Tickets: Click Here

JQ International honored several successful LGBTQ role models: Bruce Vilanch Was One

Thursday, March 12th, 2015

JQ International honored several successful LGBTQ role models from the arts community as well as a gay religious leader during its annual awards brunch March 8 at the historic Wilson Harding Golf Course Clubhouse at Griffith Park.

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From left: Rabbi Barbara Zacky, Bruce Vilanch, JQ International Executive Director Asher Gellis, Faith Soloway and Andrea Meyerson. Photo courtesy of JQ International

Those being feted were folk musician and writer Faith Soloway (JQ Inspiration Award), who also is a writer for “Transparent,” the show created by her sister Jill Soloway; comedy writer and performer Bruce Vilanch (JQ Trailblazer Award); filmmaker Andrea Meyerson (JQ Visibility Award) and Rabbi Barbara Zacky (JQ Community Leadership Award).

“After I came out, I identified strongly as a Jewish lesbian, but there weren’t many places that honored all of me,” Zacky said in a statement. “JQ has created an open and inclusive community of LGBT Jews and I’m so glad to be a part of that.”

Approximately 165 people turned out for the event.

JQ International describes itself as an inclusive community for LGBTQ Jews that raises awareness and acceptance of LGBTQ community members in the Jewish world.

“We create programs and services that foster a healthy fusion of LGBTQ and Jewish identity, which offer LGBTQ Jews, their friends, families, and loved ones the opportunity to connect with each other while fostering a strong sense of self,” the organization’s website indicates.

Why are Bruce Vilanch, LeAnn Rimes, Adam Lambert, Tim Gunn, Cloris Leachman and a host of other celebrities flipping the bird?

Wednesday, August 7th, 2013

Windy City Times
Friend Movement combats bullying, builds bridges
by Terri-Lynne Waldron
2013-08-06

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Why are Bruce Vilanch, LeAnn Rimes, Adam Lambert, Tim Gunn, Cloris Leachman and a host of other celebrities flipping the bird?

As the branding image behind the anti-bullying campaign Friend Movement, the photos show celebrities holding their blurred out middle finger up to the camera in an effort to raise awareness about bullying. Out director/activist Elliot London and openly gay actor/model/activist Ronnie Kroell are the creators behind the controversial campaign that was designed to turn the F-word into the new F-word (“friend’).

“We knew going into this that the middle finger has a lot of negative connotations,” explained Kroell, a Chicago native. “But much of what Friend Movement is trying to do is take a negative and turn it into a positive. It was important for us to make a statement and say that this is not a literal campaign, it is very figurative and it’s about empowerment and it’s about your inner monologue.”

Friend Movement was conceived after Kroell and London were introduced to one another by a mutual friend. Both men thought to combine their independent projects and create one anti-bullying campaign.

“I was working on a film project and Ronnie was working on a campaign project and both our projects really needed a lot of love,” said London who is originally from Australia and got his start as an intern on The Jerry Springer Show. “We decided to figure out how to combine forces and that’s how Friend Movement came along.”

Both Kroell and London were bullied as kids. Kroell was called a ‘faggot’ and had his pants pulled down at school and London was also called a ‘faggot’ and was spit on while riding the bus to Harlem High School in Machesney Park, Illinois. London recently went back to his high school to film a narrative short as part of the campaign. The premise of the film is to capture the stories of kids who have been bullied.

“Each student from the school created the anti-bullying film project and we went in and brought a Hollywood crew and gave it the Hollywood feel,” said London of the project they hope to have finished by late July. “It gives the students self-empowerment, it gets the people involved and it is conversation. This is something that we want to add to what Friend Movement is all about, which is going to high schools across the country and even across the world and bringing them the mentors and the help and bringing a voice to these projects.”

On July 1, Friend Movement held a benefit concert celebrating music and friendship with proceeds going towards their campaign. The concert featured the likes of LeAnn Rimes, The Voice contestants Frenchie Davis and Dia Frampton, Abraham Lin (The Glee Project) and singer Austin Brown, who is Michael Jackson’s nephew. Actress Hana Mae Lee, from the film Pitch Perfect, hosted the show.

Friend Movement has reached out to the fundraising website indiegogo.com to raise money for an upcoming cross-country tour that will get the word out about the campaign in an innovative way. The plan is to shoot 10,000 photos in 90 days across 40 cities.

‘’Raising our $99,000 goal on indiegogo.com will allow us to go to these 40 cities and take these photos for free for anyone that shows up,” said Kroell. “Not only take their photo but talk to us about their experiences being bullied and why it’s important for them to be a part of the campaign and be a friend.”

London and Kroell work 24/7 to give the campaign worldwide attention. But the success of the project is of no surprise for two guys who had big imaginations and big ambitions growing up.

“Being an only child is really helpful in a way because we never really had the barriers, so for the both of us we just do what we can do,” said London. “We’re not afraid to reach for the stars and push our limits.”

Kroell is quick to point out that Friend Movement reaches out to people from all communities, no matter their sexual orientation.

“I think one of the things that is important about this campaign is that it’s not just an LGBT campaign,” he clarified. “While we’re finding support and strength from our family and friends in the LGBT community, it’s really important to know that bullying doesn’t discriminate. As Friend Movement continues to move forward the reason why it’s going to be so powerful is that it is all about building bridges and uniting us together to really find answers.”