In keeping with holiday-season traditions, the Arlington Gay and Lesbian Alliance (AGLA) is honoring one individual and one group at the group's annual holiday party, Thursday, Dec. 4.
The 2008 individual award will be going to Kris McLaughlin.
''She served as AGLA president for three and a half years,'' says the group's current president, Daniel Hays. ''That might have been the longest anyone has served. But it's not just that. She's done tons of stuff. When she first moved to the area, she started doing communication work for AGLA. She's the LGBT representative on the Arlington County Board Diversity Dialogue Task Force. She was named a 2006 Capital Pride Hero.''
McLaughlin has also worked with Whitman-Walker Clinic of Northern Virginia, as well as the Northern Virginia AIDS Ministry.
As for this year's organization award, that will go to the Virginia Partisans Gay & Lesbian Democratic Club, though Hays emphasizes that AGLA is a nonpartisan group.
''We don't make political endorsements, but we wanted to recognize them. Several years back, we had recognized the Log Cabin Republicans of Virginia for taking a stance not to endorse President Bush for his stance on marriage. This year was such a great year for the Virginia Partisans. They had so much to do with delivering Northern Virginia for the Democrats. And we wanted to recognize their longtime track record of bringing a broadminded coalition to the table.''
Beyond the awards, the Dec. 4 holiday party will also help AGLA raise funds for the group through raffles and a silent auction. It will also be time for members to choose officers for the upcoming year. And though Hays plans to remain in AGLA leadership, he says he's choosing not to continue on as president.
''It's been a fun ride. One of the biggest lessons in working with the LGBT community, is that it's very rewarding. Very tiring, but very rewarding.''
He adds that a recent viewing of the new Harvey Milk biopic, Milk, tracing the political career of one of the world's first openly gay elected officials, reminded him of AGLA's importance. In particular, he said, was Milk's often-repeated maxim, ''You've got to give 'em hope.''
''That's the role AGLA plays,'' Hays says of working to inspire Northern Virginia's GLBT community. ''We continue to deliver hope that we can eventually achieve full equality.''
The Arlington Gay and Lesbian Alliance holds a holiday party and award ceremony Thursday, Dec. 4, at the Rhodeside Grill, 1836 Wilson Blvd., Arlington, from 6:30 to 10 p.m. Admission is $10. For more information, visit http://agla.org, or send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.