Kathy Griffin to Be Honored by the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus at 11th Annual Crescendo Gala

Funds Raised During the Evening Will Benefit the Organization’s “Lavender Pen Tour”

March 1, 2017 (SAN FRANCISCO) – The San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus (SFGMC), whose mission is to create extraordinary musical experiences that inspire community, activism and compassion, today announced a stellar lineup of honorees and VIP guests for the 11th annual Crescendo Gala presented by Foresters Financial. Being held on March 12, 2017, this year’s star-studded event will honor two-time Emmy and Grammy award-winning comedian Kathy Griffin with the Vanguard Award for her achievements in LGBTQ equality and for using her voice as an agent of change in the movement.

The evening will also honor the Rev. Dr. Susan Hrostowski, Kathy Garner and their son, Hudson, with the Human Rights Champion Award. Additionally, Lexus will be recognized with the Corporate Champion Award. Other special guests include actor and activist Wilson Cruz, The Fosters’ Hayden Byerly and the Plaintiffs in California’s Prop. 8 case and activists Jeff Zarrillo and Paul Katami. Guests will be entertained with performances by RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 5 winner Jinkx Monsoon and country music star Chely Wright.

With a rapidly shifting political climate in the United States, marked by an increase in dangerous and divisive rhetoric against the LGBTQ and other marginalized communities, SFGMC recently announced the launch of its “Lavender Pen Tour.” This October, over the course of nine days, SFGMC will visit seven cities and numerous small towns in six states including Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee. While in each of these states, SFGMC will host performances and begin a dialogue with community leaders in an effort to support local LGBTQ communities.

“We couldn’t be happier to honor this extraordinary group of game-changers at this year’s Crescendo Gala for using their voices to amplify the message of equality and acceptance,” said Chris Verdugo, executive director of SFGMC. “Proceeds raised throughout the evening will support our ‘Lavender Pen Tour.’ This tour will give the chorus a chance to use our voices to affect change in lives of young people struggling to live their authentic lives and communities throughout the south.”

SFGMC 2017 Crescendo Gala honorees include:

Vanguard Award: Kathy Griffin

Griffin, a two-time Emmy and Grammy award-winning comedian, is a towering figure on television, on tour and in publishing. She breaks through the entertainment clutter with her universally recognized brand of pull-no-punches comedy. Through humor and laughter Griffin shines a spotlight on equality and has been a vocal advocate against California’s Prop. 8 and a staunch supporter of marriage equality. She continues to use her platform to recognize how personal experiences can lead to change and is unafraid to keep the conversation going during these contentious times.

Human Rights Champion Award: The Hrostowski/Garner Family

The family from Hattiesburg, MS, will be honored for their role as one of the plaintiff families in the Campaign for Southern Equality v. Bryant (CSE III) case. The case overturned Mississippi’s ban on allowing same-sex couples to adopt. In addition, working with the Campaign for Southern Equality, the Rev. Dr. Susan Hrostowski filed a lawsuit against several state officials arguing House Bill 1523 violated the First and 14th Amendments of the U.S. Constitution. On March 31, 2016, a federal judge ruled in favor of Hrostowski and struck down the law. Governor Bryant has appealed the ruling on House Bill 1523. On April 3, 2017, the Hrostowski/Garner family will go before the 5th District Court of Appeals represented by Roberta Kaplan.

Corporate Champion: Lexus

By creating custom brand content films and producing and airing commercials developed specifically for the LGBTQ audience, Lexus continues to show their commitment to the LGBTQ community. Over the past few years, Lexus has partnered with LGBTQ media brands OUT and Four Two Nine to celebrate LGBTQ innovators and influencers. Their content showcases these inspiring journeys and how their experiences help influence innovative thinking and bold moves keeping them ahead of the curve. Additionally, in 2015, Lexus released two commercials, “Make Some Noise” and “Ahead of the Curve,” geared specifically towards the LGBTQ community.

The 11th annual Crescendo Gala is presented by Foresters Financial with additional support from partners: Lexus, MWWPR, Mrs. Pansy Chan, Terrence Chan + Edward Sell, J.P. Morgan, Peter Drake + Jared Moreno, Randall Laroche + David Laudon, AT&T, United, Intercontinental and Via Media.

Individual tickets for the Crescendo Gala are $200; VIP tickets are $300 and include an invitation to an exclusive cocktail hour on Sunday, March 12, at The Ritz-Carlton San Francisco. Table sponsor packages are also available. To purchase tickets, please visit: http://www.sfgmc.org/crescendo/

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MEDIA CONTACTS:
Mark Umbach
MWWPR
(310) 986-6312
mumbach@mww.com

Erika Satler
MWWPR
(213) 234-1745
esatler@mww.com

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About San Francisco Gay Mens Chorus

For nearly 40 years, the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus has courageously served as the international standard bearer for a powerful and accomplished mix of high-caliber performance, human rights, community activism, empowerment and inclusiveness, establishing it as an icon among LGBT organizations. Founded in 1978, it was the first organization of its kind and is credited with starting the LGBT choral movement, galvanizing and changing the course of LGBTQ history. It continues to rally and inspire other arts-based community organizations around the world. Under the leadership of Artistic Director Dr. Timothy Seelig, SFGMC has in recent seasons established a heightened level of performance standards receiving audience and choral acclaim, increased its touring and recording profile and broadened its impact and reputation in the community while maintaining its signature blend of humor, personality and high-voltage performances. For more information, visit www.sfgmc.org and @sfgmc (Facebook/Twitter/Instagram).

About Lexus

Lexus' passion for brave design, imaginative technology, and exhilarating performance enables the luxury lifestyle brand to create amazing experiences for its customers. Lexus began its journey in 1989 with two luxury sedans and a commitment to pursue perfection. Since then, Lexus has developed its lineup to meet the needs of global luxury customers in more than 90 countries. In the United States, Lexus vehicles are sold through 237 dealers offering a full line-up of luxury vehicles. With five models incorporating Lexus Hybrid Drive, Lexus is the luxury hybrid leader. Lexus also offers seven F SPORT models and two F performance models. Lexus is committed to being a visionary brand that anticipates the future for luxury customers.

About Foresters Financial Holding Company, Inc. (formerly First Investors) 
Foresters Financial Holding Company, Inc. consists of a group of diversified financial services companies that include a registered broker-dealer, two investment advisers, a life insurance company and a transfer agent. Foresters Financial Services, Inc., a broker-dealer, helps everyday families reach their financial goals by offering solutions and guidance through its network of financial representatives working in 45 branch offices across the United States. Foresters Investment Management Company, Inc. is the investment adviser to the First Investors family of funds,.  Foresters Life Insurance and Annuity Company, Inc., a New York domiciled insurance company, offers a range of insurance and annuity products and maintains an “A” (Excellent) rating by A.M. Best1. For more information visit foresters.com.

About Foresters Financial

Foresters Financial™ is an international financial services provider with more than three million clients and members in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom, and total funds under management of $34 billion². With a history of more than 140 years, we provide life insurance, savings, retirement and investment solutions that help families achieve their financial goals, protect their families and improve their communities.³ For more information,

visit foresters.com.

Foresters Financial and Foresters are trade names and trademarks of The Independent Order of Foresters (a fraternal benefit society, 789 Don Mills Road, Toronto, Canada M3C 1T9) and its subsidiaries.

¹ An "A" (Excellent) rating is assigned to companies that have a strong ability to meet their ongoing obligations to policyholders and have, on balance, excellent balance sheet strength, operating performance and business profile when compared to the standards established by A.M. Best Company. A.M. Best assigns ratings from A++ to F, A++ and A+ being superior ratings and A and A- being excellent ratings. In assigning the Foresters Life Insurance and Annuity Company (FLIAC) rating on August 18, 2016, A.M. Best stated that the rating outlook is "stable", which means it is unlikely to change in the near future. See ambest.com for our latest rating.

² In Canadian dollars as of December 31, 2015.

³ Products offered vary by country. Not all products are available for distribution in all jurisdictions. In the United States, products are offered by The Independent Order of Foresters and its subsidiaries, including Foresters Financial Services, Inc. a registered broker-dealer. Securities, life insurance and annuity products are offered through Foresters Financial Services, Inc. or independent producers. Insurance products are issued by Foresters Life Insurance and Annuity Company, New York, or The Independent Order of Foresters. Investment advisory products and services are offered through Foresters Advisory Services, LLC, a registered investment adviser.