A Sold-Out Crowd Gathered to Honor African-Americans in the LGBTQ Community

First Female NBA Referee Violet Palmer Feted With Lifetime Achievement Award
and Award-winning Actor Rockmond Dunbar Nabs Ally Award
at the Fourth Annual Truth Awards 


In the spirit of awards season, African Americans in the LGBTQ community took their bows and trophies at the fourth annual Truth Awards. The Truth Awards was held on Saturday, February 24, 2018 at the Taglyan Cultural Complex in Los Angeles.  The black-tie affair honored African-American, trailblazing men and women whose personal and professional accomplishments have positively impacted the perception and image of the Black LGBTQ community. The Truth Awards embodies the belief that members of the Black LGBTQ community and its allies who embrace and live their truth should be recognized and honored.

No envelopes were needed because all the names called that night were winners. One by one, the honorees took the stage and shared “their truth,” trials and tribulations of being Black, gay as well as trans in America. They also talked about the importance of being honored by their “own” community for their accomplishments. The Truth Awards are presented by Better Brothers Los Angeles (BBLA) in association with award-winning actress/activist Sheryl Lee Ralph and her non-profit organization, the DIVA Foundation.  The ceremony was hosted by television personality Tanika Ray of “Extra.”

The Truth Awards feted former NBA referee Violet Palmer with a Lifetime Achievement Award. She is the first female to officiate an NBA game, and became the first openly gay referee in NBA history. After 19 years, serving in that capacity, she retired from the sport, and now serves as a consultant to the basketball league. Early in her career, she worked tenaciously to topple gender barriers in professional sports and earned the respect of her peers. In nearly two decades as an NBA official, Palmer has officiated 930 regular season games and nine playoff games, as well as the 2014 All-Star game in New Orleans. Before joining the NBA, Palmer officiated in the WNBA during the league’s inaugural season, including the 1997 WNBA Championship. Two years later, Palmer won the Naismith Award for Official of the Year. Currently, Palmer is the coordinator of Women’s Basketball Officials for the Pac 12 Conference, the West Coast Conference (WCC) and the Western Athletic Conference.

Along with Palmer, the Truth Awards also honored award-winning actor Rockmond Dunbar (“9-1-1”), who is straight, with the Ally Award for “taken on roles as a black gay man, bringing to light contemporary issues, facing the African American community,” said Ralph. Dunbar is part of the ensemble cast of Fox’s hit show, “9-1-1,” sharing screen time with Oscar-nominated actress Angela Bassett, and portraying, Michael Grant, a married man, who just recently came out to his family. He’s also portrayed a gay man in the 2006 hit indie, “Dirty Laundry,” directed by Maurice Jamal. Dunbar has been mesmerizing audiences for many, many years with his diverse television roles. His tv credits include CBS’s long running series, “The Mentalist,” FX’s smash hit “Sons Of Anarchy,” and Fox’s “Prison Break.” Plus, who can forget him as Pookie on BET’s “The Game” or Kenny Chadway in Showtime’s critically-acclaimed series, “Soul Food?”

Other honorees included the “Eyebrow King,” and celebrity makeup artist Damone Roberts, owner of the Damone Roberts Beverly Hills® and Damone Roberts New York® with the Business Leadership Award; singer/songwriter Rahsaan Patterson with the Music & Arts Award; entertainment publicist Ellene Miles of EV Miles Media Group with the Media & Arts Award; journalist Tre’Vell Anderson of the Los Angeles Times with the Passing the Torch Award; and “I Am Cait” reality star and health educator Chandi Moore with the Advocate Award.

For bio blurbs about the honorees, visit http://png.pe/AMnOD

This year’s presenters included actor Trevante Rhodes (“Moonlight”), actor Stu James (“Mr. Student Body President”), actress Vanessa Williams (“Famous in Love” “Soulfood”), actress Renee Lawless (“The Haves and Have Nots”), tv host and style expert Lloyd Boston, beauty expert Sam Fine, writer/producer Ben Cory Jones (“Insecure”), performance artist Dale Guy Madison (“My Life in 3 Easy Payments”), African American Film Critics Association (AAFCA) president Gil Robertson, WNBA general manager Penny Toler, trans advocate Valerie Spencer, KTLA-TV reporter Kareen Wynter  and business owners Charles Hughes and Richard Solomon of Lambda Vodka.
Grammy-nominated powerhouse singer/songwriter Shanice graced the stage, showcasing her killer vocals to various hits, including her signature song, “I Love Your Smile.” After the awards ceremony, the afterparty cranked up, thanks to beats by DJ B-Hen.

Past honorees include Emmy-winning actress Loretta Devine, reality star Wendell James (“Raising Whitley”), author/writer James Earl Hardy, transgender model Tracey “Africa” Norman, celebrity makeup artist Sam Fine, Grammy-nominated producer/singer/songwriter B. Slade, advertising executive Aaron Walton of Walton Isaacson (WI), and activist and night club owner Jewel Thais-Williams – just to name a few. For more information about the Truth Awards and its honorees, visit www.BetterBrothersLA.com/truthawards 

The Truth Awards will benefit BBLA and its partnership with the DIVA Foundation, which has initiated several initiatives aimed at affirming and strengthening the African American LGBTQ community educationally, financially, physically and socially. For more information about the organization and its scholarship program, visit www.BetterBrothersLA.com

The Truth Awards are made possible with the support of Gilead, KTLA-TV, New York Life, Northrop Grumman, Columbia University IRAAS and Lambda Vodka.


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