Friday, January 18, 2008

New York Pays Homage to Mel Cheren

Hundreds of LGBT New Yorkers and others from around the country and beyond paid tribute to Mel Cheren, affectionately known as the "Godfather of Disco," at a memorial service at St. Peter's Church on Lexington Avenue last night. LGBT Community Center executive director Richard Burns, Taana Gardner, Kenton Nix, Dawn Tallman and Jeannie Hooper of WBAI were among those who paid their respects to a remarkable man who obviously touched so many people in this city and around the world with his music, his philanthropy and his love.

The disco music that greeted my editor and I and others inside the sanctuary seemed all too appropriate for a man who certainly left an indelible mark. As a relative newcomer to New York, I never had the good fortune to meet Mel or to even learn about his life and many accomplishments until after his death last month. But those who paid homage to him proved loud and clear that he really did make a difference. His spirit was certainly present in St. Peter's last night as friends, former colleagues and others honored him through song, prayer, tribute and even disco ball earrings. And it will hopefully remain alive and well in the years to come.

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