Five ‘extraordinary voices’ set to receive 2022 Palm Springs Pride Honors Awards

Honorees include community advocates, organizers, and leaders, all of whom have devoted their lives to improving the lives of those in the LGBTQ+ community.
The five people being honored with Palm Springs Pride Honors Awards this year are (clockwise from top left) Jax Kelly, Maria Fraser, Nino Eilets, Karen Borja, and Dr. Antonia D’orsay. (Photo of Dr. D’orsay by Sam Robinson)

Palm Springs Pride is still two months away, but we’re learning now who will be honored during the city’s biggest annual event.

The news: On Friday, the organization behind the celebration announced the recipients of its 2022 Palm Springs Pride Honors Awards. Five awards will be handed out, celebrating what organizers say are “extraordinary voices” in the community.

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  • Honorees include community advocates, organizers, and leaders, all of whom have devoted their lives to improving the lives of those in the LGBTQ+ community.

What they’re saying: “These are not people who seek attention or accolades for what they do. With purpose and a giving spirit, they quietly serve, and we are grateful for the profound impact they have had and continue to have in our community.” – Ron deHarte, president and CEO of Palm Springs Pride

Those being honored this year, and their awards, include the following:

David ‘Jax’ Kelly, Spirit of Stonewall Volunteer of the Year

Kelly, who celebrates life as a gay, black man living with HIV, leads Let’s Kick ASS Palm Springs (AIDS Survivor Syndrome), serving one of the largest communities of people who are aging and those aging with HIV.

He was the first black resident appointed to the Palm Springs Library Board of Trustees. His volunteerism includes serving on Gov. Gavin Newsom’s Equity in Aging Advisory Council and on the California Department of Aging. He is also a member of the Coachella Valley Senior Collaborative. Kelly was Mr. Palm Springs Leather 2018, and POZ Magazine recognized him for outstanding work in the HIV/AIDS Community. 

Maria Fraser, Spirit of Stonewall Community Service Award

“Fraser’s history of compassion and action speaks volumes about her dedication to improving the lives of women and the LGBTQ+ community,” organizers explained. “In nursing for most of her adult life, she mainly focused on women’s health while finding ways to facilitate significant changes for the LGBTQ+ Community.”

She is credited with hospital workplace advocacy that led to substantial changes in allowing same-sex couples the same access to visitation of a newborn in the NICU as straight couples have.

She was on the Board of the L-Fund for seven years providing emergency financial support and educational assistance to lesbians in crisis.

Nino Eilets, Spirit of Pride Award

Eilets served in the Air Force for twelve years and has been a resident of Palm Springs since 1996. He is described as “a generous, gentle soul with a big heart who has helped elevate many community organizations by donating his platform for outreach and education through advertising and editorial coverage.”

Eilets’s life has brought him a wealth of experience and passion that he uses to raise awareness of advancing equality, promote diversity, and celebrate the strength and talent of the LGBTQ+ community.

Karen Borja, Friend of Pride Award

Borja is an ally and champion for the LGBTQ community, a community organizer, and a fierce advocate for reproductive and healthcare access for everyone.

At 16, she joined family and community members in Coachella to create a park network that demonstrated an investment in people and place. She’s been transforming needs into community power ever since. Karen helped organize the second Eastern Coachella Valley Pride and currently serves as the president of the Desert Healthcare District.

Antonia “Toni” D’orsay, Spirit of Stonewall Advocate of the Year Award

D’orsay has worked to improve the lives and wellbeing of lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, gender diverse, queer, questioning, and BIPOC people for over 20 years. She serves on the HARP-PS advisory board, is a member of the TransHealth Northampton Research Advisory Board and administrators, and moderates the International Transgender Health Facebook group.

Additionally, she founded the Trans 100 and has worked in local, state, national, and international efforts around Latinx, Black, Native, and LGBTQ+ rights.

More information: This year’s Pride Week is set for Nov. 1 through 6. For more information visit or follow the organization on Facebook.

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