BY HEATHER MARLETTE

                So, sometimes you get a reward for giving back. I am a facilitator for the Pride Center of the Capital Region’s Youth Groups in Albany and Schenectady counties. Trust me; this gig is easier than it sounds, because these are good kids. It is great to see these kids, who may have no support other then within those walls during the hours of Youth Group thrive in an environment they feel safe in and that they have found family in. I honestly do not need a reward other than this, and look forward to the day when we succeed in expanding our groups to more counties and helping more LGBTQA youths out. You do get some though, and Saturday August 10, 2013 I got to attend a special Gala for the Pride Center, with a Dame Edna Performance…and it was fabulous, darlings – or should I say possums…
                A quick background – Dame Edna is of course the famous creation of Barry Humphries, who is an Australian comedian/performer. He started her simply as Edna Everage, an Australian housewife who he used to comment on the Australian Suburban life. She got more outrageous as performances grew throughout the decades, to the current well-known, oft recognized lilac haired, cat shaped glasses, outrageous dresser known today. She also got elevated to Dame Status. Humphries still performs as her (though he said he would retire her in 2012, and is still going). There are many imitations, but he will always be the original!
                I got to see a performance by a great Dame Edna performer who has not only gotten the blessing to perform her from Humphries, but performed with Humphries at a special tribute to him for his birthday back in 2010 – Celebrity Impersonator Michael L. Walters. He and Humphries share another tie – Humphries provided the voice of Bruce the Shark in Finding Nemo and Walters originated that character in the live performance at Disney World. Walters has been performing as the Dame since 2001, and has traveled much of North America with his spot on and delightful impersonation.
                The performance took place at The Mansion Inn Bed & Breakfast just outside of Saratoga Springs, NY, where Mr. Walters returned for the third consecutive year this year by popular demand. One of the nights was dedicated to the Pride Center, as I said above and it was a great night. To be able to enjoy a night out with the people who like me work with the Pride Center in either a professional or volunteer role was great. All the money earned was for the Pride Center, and it was a wonderful experience all the way around. As we go through this contentious time in ours and other societies LGBTQ communities world over, to see the people who strive to protect, lobby and educate us having a good time and enjoying each other’s company, that was priceless. Thank you to everyone, to the Pride Center’s staff, to the Mansion Inn and their staff and of course to Mr. Walters and his partner. I hope that as we all continue on with the fight for equal rights for all, the laughter we shared on an unusually chilly night in August will keep us smiling in the hard times as well as the good.

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