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Honors 2015

For its 14th annual Honors Gala, the Matthew Shepard Foundation is proud to announce the recipients of this year’s “Spirit of Matthew Award” and “Dennis Dougherty Award for Community Service.”

Nicole Maines and the Maines Family

Nicole Maines and her family—her parents, Kelly and Wayne, and twin brother, Jonas— of Portland, Maine, are this year’s recipients of the Spirit of Matthew Award. Established in 2011, the award recognizes the contributions to the LGBTQ+ movement by a young person who exemplifies the restless desire for positive social change through constructive activism. Nicole, a trans* college freshman, brought tremendous progress to her school district through activism and ultimately a successful lawsuit with the support of her brother and parents.

When their children were entering sixth grade, the Maineses moved to Portland to escape bullying. Kelly and Wayne worked with Nicole and Jonas’s new school to create a safe environment for Nicole, but at first were met with little success. For her safety, Nicole entered middle school hiding the fact that she is transgender.

But in 2011, bill LD1046 came about in the state of Maine and, if passed, would have discriminated against transgender people in the use of public facilities, such as restrooms. At age 13, Nicole and Jonas, with the strong support of their parents, took to Maine Public Radio to speak out against this bill and the “adult fears that had impacted their family.” Without their voices, bill LD1046 restricting transgender rights may have become law. In 2014, Nicole and her family won a long-standing lawsuit against her school after she’d been forced to use a staff bathroom instead of the girls’ bathroom. Maine’s Supreme Court ruled that Nicole Maines’ rights had been violated under the state’s Human Rights Act, marking a historic and landmark victory for transgender rights in the U.S.

Nicole continues to inspire other young people, motivating them to become active in supporting long lasting LGBTQ+ change in Maine. In addition to her appearance on Maine Public Radio, she has appeared before Maine legislators to speak about transgender children and has lobbied for equal rights at our nation’s capital.

Nicole currently attends the University of Maine majoring in art and theater. Activism and education are core principles that she will continue to promote through her acting, public speaking and upcoming book being published by Random House in October.

Jeff & Jennifer Kustok and Hamburger Mary’s

Jeff & Jennifer Kustok and their celebrated place-to-be restaurant, bar and entertainment venue Hamburger Mary’s, are the 2015 winners of the Dennis Dougherty Award for Community Service.

The award, established in 2014 as a tribute to the late Denver businessman, philanthropist and activist, honors those who have demonstrated a deep commitment to Erasing Hate and supporting the LGBTQ+ community.

The Kustoks opened a Hamburger Mary’s Bar and Grille in 2006 in Denver, and were “pleasantly surprised by the warm welcome [they] received from the LGBTQ+ and straight community.” The franchise first opened in 1972 in San Francisco, where the city’s LGBTQ+ community made the establishment a place of their own due to the original owners’ “passion for individuality and nonconformity.” Since its founding, the Hamburger Mary’s franchise, and its owners, have continued their commitment to supporting the LGBTQ+ community through fundraising efforts and charity involvement. By opening an establishment in Denver, the Kustoks helped to expand the franchise’s legacy as a fervent supporter of and social hotspot for the LGBTQ+ community.

The Kustoks’ business has continued to grow for nearly a decade, and they are grateful for the incredible experiences Hamburger Mary’s has afforded them.
“We are especially grateful for the opportunity to work with so many organizations like Colorado Aids Project, Matthew Shepard Foundation, Project Angel Heart, and the Imperial Court nationally and many others,” they said. “We hope to continue these relationships and make new ones for years to come.”

The Matthew Shepard Foundation Honors Gala will be held on Saturday October 10th, 2015 at the Seawell Grand Ballroom located in the Denver Center for the Performing Arts. Tickets can be purchased online at MatthewShepard.org/Honors

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