By: Valerie Milano
Palm Springs, CA (The Hollywood Times) 2/12/12 – The Desert AIDS Project hosted the 18th Annual Steve Chase Humanitarian Awards Saturday night in Palm Springs. Hosted by Joan Rivers, the $450 ticket included a celebrity red carpet event, dinner, performances and the awards ceremony in honor of Steve Chase, a long time supporter of the Desert AIDS Project. The high profil event was well attended by celebrities, honorees and others affected by the HIV and AIDS epidemic. Despite breaking news of Whitney Houston’s death, the night was heartfelt, high energy and full of comical interludes from host Joan Rivers and Integrated Wealth Management Sponsor, Jim Casey who is expected to raise 1.5 million at this event this year. The affair also featured wonderful live performances, including a visibly teary eyed Queen Latifah. While on the press line, THT spoke with Joan Rivers about the passing of Whitney. We asked her how Queen Latifah, who grew up with Whitney, was holding up and she said the two of them had been crying in the green room the last several minutes. Due to the wild desert wind the red carpet was brought inside where Latifah was in no shape to give interviews, though she did perform later on in the evening. In the press room on the red carpet she kept her back to the journalists most of the time. When we said we were sorry (for the death of her dear friend) she replied “I’m doing everything I can right now just to maintain, baby”. And she maintained quite well on stage singing “I Know Where I’ve Been”. Peter Gallagher, award recipient for the Pioneer Arts & Activism Award is a long time theater actor and has lost many friends to AIDS back in his days in New York which is why he got involved with DAP. George Eads introduced Gallagher who told the audience Eads outed him one day by saying “he’s straight and that is not so bad”. Gallagher was honored for raising hundreds of thousands of $ for AIDS research. I got a chance to speak with Gallagher who told The Hollywood Times “I am honored to be here and receive this award because he was an extraordinary person (Steve Chase).” Father Andrew Green received the Partners for Life Award. He served 18 years on Desert AIDS Project Boards and has walked in every Palm Springs AIDS Walk since 1988. When asked what was his biggest accomplishment in the last 18 years of being on the D.A.P. board he told us “The walk is a big deal and to advocate for people with HIV/Aids.” His congregation at St. Paul in the Desert Episcopal Church in Palm Springs, needs pastoral care. “This disease is not a secret anymore people had to keep it a secret in the past and now they can come to me to speak more freely about their health issues dealing with HIV/Aids. When Rivers introduced Green, she said “The Partners for Life Award is NOT dedicated to Demi and Ashton” which had the 1,500 attendance crowd roaring with laughter. Karolee Sowle was presented the 100 WOMEN Award. Sowle is the CEO of Desert Regional Medical Center in Palm Springs. Matt Bomer of “White Collar” received the New Generation Arts & Activism Award. Bomer opened the ceremonies for LA AIDS Walk this year and is a tireless fund raiser of his generation, following in Gallagher’s footsteps. A small statured young lady adorned in blue sequin mini dress Hydeia Broadbent, was presented with the Partners in Activism Award. Hydeia was born to an HIV positive, crack addicted mother and grew up with a foster family who helped create this extremely brave, wonderful and giving young woman. She was a teenaged AIDS activist and co-authored the book “You Can Get Past the Tears”. She told The Hollywood Times that she had lost her health insurance but DAP gives her hope. The past 17 years this event has raised millions of dollars for the Desert AIDS Project, which provides a comprehensive set of health, education, and prevention services to people living with HIV and AIDS.