Now, the group has teamed up with CD Baby and a roster of talented performers to produce “From the Heart,” a unique CD that helps educate and entertain. On April 11, the Wedding Party and IUNITY will launch the CD with a benefit concert at the Chelsea club Happy Valley.
“We are already an organization that is about creating awareness, not necessarily event planning, but awareness. And that’s exactly what the CD is,” said Anthony Brown, development director for The Wedding Party. “Each of the songs is introduced with spoken word interviews we’ve done with a number of different people—gay, non-gay, parents, families—on why marriage is so important, what their gay friends mean to them, and what marriage and love means to them through gay friends.”
“From the Heart” features 19 songs from artists including Ari Gold, Sophia Ramos, Laura Wolfe, Simone, the daughter of Nina Simone, and Michael Todd & Midnite Circus.
“I wanted to be a part of this event because I want to help stress the importance of gay people’s right to marry,” said Gold, who is also an honorary host committee member of The Wedding Party. “I think gay people should be encouraged to form our own unique types of bonds and relationships, but we will never be able to do this fully without support of the law and equal rights. This is a matter of choice and gay people deserve the choice to marry as much as anybody else—because in choice we have freedom.”
The CD’s producer Mykel, who contributed a track to the CD, said he first got involved with the project in 2004, when he was “asked by Wedding Party member Jason Kadlec to put a big ole’ wedding cake float on the parade route.” Mykel said that on that float were a dozen couples celebrating long-term relationships, four lesbian drummers from the group Paprika, and 15 flaggers in white with bright pink and orange flags.
“From that point, Jason and I decided to raise the bar and create a CD compilation from that wonderful experience, and after nine months, ‘From the Heart’ was born,” he explained.
Event producer Maxson Scott said, “When I heard everything combined, it was very moving. They had come to us about working toward bringing the community together. At IUNITY, basically we just stepped it up a level, and extended out to some other performers. We didn’t want it to be a soapbox, but kind of to let your opinion be heard.”
“I am incredibly honored by the response of Nina Simone’s daughter, which I still can’t even formulate words around,” said Scott. “The event will be a combination of registering your support in case anything becomes active in the political arena, as well as entertaining through a message of equality.”
“What we sincerely hope is that we will reach a group of people in a way that they respond to and giving them a bigger reason to participate in this conversation,” said Brown. “The interviews, the intros into each song, that’s where it helps people go, ‘Maybe I feel that way too, I have a gay brother or sister.’ Our goal is to live in a world where we don’t have to do this anymore, where gay or non-gay people live together in love, not in ignorance, not in fear, where it really is one world, and equality is a given.”
Brown credited the efforts of IUNITY and SWISH, Straight Women in Support of Homos, in organizing the event. The $20 cover charge includes a copy of the CD “From the Heart,” plus a chance to win a seven day/six night trip to the Kalani Oceanside Retreat in Hawaii.
The April 11 fundraiser for The Wedding Party will feature singer Simone, heartthrob singer Ari Gold, downtown artist Penny Arcade, Anthony Brown, development director for the marriage equality group, shown here getting a big kiss from his husband Gary Spino at their Montreal wedding, Lower East Side City Councilwoman Rosie Mendez, and Maxson Scott, founder of the IUNITY Fund, which is producing the event.