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We Need a Call to Action, Jackson!

By Dana Miller

April 7, 2010

It seemed for a time easier to find someone willing to volunteer to die than to lend their heart and time for charity. There were certainly exceptions to this hypothesis (more about that in a second), yet one must admit we have gone through a period of mass parsimonious behavior. This may come as a shock to some, but our community can be a tad egocentric. A friend of mine, producer/manager Daniel Sladek calls it, "The Great American Disconnect." But I believe the tide is turning. And I want your help.

Daniel has been philanthropic forever. Years ago he and actress Alexandra Paul co-founded an amazing organization, Young Artists United. Every mega-hot star in Hollywood joined YAU. His take on giving back is simple. It’s "essential to our survival." On his death bed, our mutual pal Patrick Lippert, (the founding executive director of Rock the Vote) asked Daniel to promise that he would "keep doing the work." And Daniel has. He and his partners produced the terrific Lifetime movie Prayers for Bobby, starring Sigourney Weaver. It is a stirring story of a mother coming to grips with her gay son who committed suicide.

Daniel, together with his fellow Emmy-nominated executive producers David Permut and Chris Taaffe, are the event chairs for a very cool event. It’s the First Annual PFLAG/The L.A. Event. It’s set for June 9, rooftop at the London Hotel on the Strip. Event co-chairs include Dustin Lance Black, Linda Berman, Bruce Cohen, Dan Jinks, Brian Graden, Erwin More, Jeff Olde and Bryan Singer.

Parents, Families & Friends of Lesbians and Gays is a stunning alliance made up of folks who love us. This vital non-profit is made up of our straight allies. PFLAG began back in 1973 and we need it more today than yesterday. They are pure and spectacular. So this is what I’d like you to do. Please keep an eye on Frontiers in L.A. for details to attend the event. If you want to volunteer, please e-mail me and I’ll pass your info on. This is a great bash to get your feet wet in charity. Please support PFLAG, because they support you. And thank you Daniel Sladek and friends for continuing to do the work.

Another golden light in our community is shining bright and I must take a moment to both recognize and salute his commitment. Hank Behar was once a school teacher and he just can’t stop teaching. Hank is filled with great stories of West Hollywood long before it was officially WeHo. He recalls when bars were dark and the cops would drop in, crank up the lights and check your IDs just to hassle you. Scary stuff for a school teacher back in those days. He stared down the initial massacre of HIV/AIDS and did something about it. He got involved. And that is an understatement. Hank Behar has volunteered on the frontline for now over 25 years. He saw the need, showed up and has never stopped. Hank wouldn’t know what donor fatigue was if you hit him with it—just not part of his vocabulary. Twenty-five years of making a commitment to his fallen brothers and sisters. I have no clout with the board of APLA, but I do have a suggestion. Over the years, I was involved in awarding tons of Commitment to Life Awards to several true heroes. Let’s bring it back and give it to Hank. I’ll split the cost of the trophy with you.

Hank, I so admire not only what you have done, but what you have taught. I speak for a bunch of us when I say we love and cherish you. Twenty-five years is the silver anniversary. Silver just doesn’t seem enough to honor your heart of gold. Bless you, Hank Behar.

So damn sad to report the passing of Dan Moriarty. Dan was a gentle soul, full of spirit and draped in elegance. And lord, was he funny. Dan ran APLA’s development department in its rather difficult post-halcyon days and he did it beautifully. He quite likely was the only man for that gig. He was put to the test and he scored. He always scored. Dan truly made a difference in the lives of the clients of AIDS Project Los Angeles. His key to the pearly gates was likely assured by that, but there was so very much more to the man. The gent had a great career careening about both the early days of rock ‘n roll and the fashion industry. His care and mettle dealing in the zany world of non-profit was a sight to behold. When Dan told you it was going to be alright, you just knew he was right. After the passing of his parents, Dan became the patriarch of his large family. He was a mentor to those interested and a friend to just about everyone. He leaves behind his partner of ten years, Tom McCauley. Dan apparently fought like hell and ultimately lost to leukemia. But in a strange way, all those who knew him won. We won a lifetime, or a day or even just a moment with the generous gift of Dan Moriarty in our lives. And Lord, it was divine. R.I.P. my friend.

See You Out & About

contact me: malibudana@aol.com