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On Saturday, January 31, the annual HRC Greater NY Gala took place at the Waldorf Astoria. HRC -- the nation's largest LGBT civil rights organization -- honored various influencers, including U.S. Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey (who delivered the featured speech), the cast and filmmakers of The Imitation Game, and General Electric, which received the 2015 HRC Corporate Equality Award.
"Senator Booker is a proven leader with a stellar record in the fight for full LGBT equality," HRC President Chad Griffin said in his speech, who also stated: "We are proud to honor the stars and filmmakers of The Imitation Game for bringing the captivating yet tragic story of Alan Turing to the big screen. The film will give millions across the globe a chance to celebrate a truly brilliant man for his groundbreaking contributions to the world."
Deena Fidas, director of the HRC Workplace Equality Program, said: "A role model for workplace equality, GE has clearly demonstrated a strong commitment to supporting its LGBT employees through inclusive corporate policies and practices."
Alongside the honorees, the event featured a soulful performance by Mary Lambert, who released her first solo album, Heart on My Sleeve, last year, and was the vocalist who sang alongside Macklemore and Ryan Lewis on the anthem-hit "Same Love."
The gala, however, wasn't all superlatives and upbeat celebrations. Outside the hotel, activists form the AIDS Coalition To Unleash Power (ACT UP) gathered to petition the HRC.
ACT UP members criticized HRC for not including any mention of HIV in their yearly Corporate Equality Index; they also demanded that HRC appoint an HIV liaison to the AIDS community. One member addressed HRC's silence on the issue of homeless LGBT youth in NYC and their increased risk of HIV infection.
ACT UP members chanted: "HRC fight HIV, like the leaders that you claim to be,"as gala attendees exited the Waldorf Astoria on Saturday evening.