Photos of Young People

Voices Gala 2017

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DETROIT, MI — Lily Tomlin, the award-winning actor, and comedienne, has been selected by the Ruth Ellis Center to receive its inaugural Ruth Ellis Legacy Award at its annual VOICES gala on Sept. 14, 2017, at Sound Board, in the MotorCity Casino Hotel. The award honors individuals who embody the spirit, grace, and generosity of the organization’s namesake, an African-American lesbian who opened her home and heart to members of the LGBTQ community in Detroit as early as the 1930s. Ruth openly identified as lesbian in 1915, was the first woman to own her own printing company in the City of Detroit, and lived to the age of 101, seeing the Center come to being before her passing in 2000. Joining Lily at this year’s VOICES gala will be Emmy-award winning writer and comedian, Bruce Vilanch (VOICES 2015 Special Guest), legendary storyteller and actress, Miss Coco Peru, and Los Angeles-based standup comic, actor, and writer, Cameron Esposito. 

The VOICES Gala is Ruth Ellis’ signature event, which provides critical funding to the organization’s operations while also recognizing its many dedicated supporters. Incorporated in 1999, The Ruth Ellis Center works to build positive futures with LGBTQ young people experiencing barriers to housing, health, and wellness. Lear Corporation will serve as Presenting Sponsor of VOICES for the fifth year in a row, allowing the nonprofit to host 400 guests including community members, volunteers, staff, youth, and sponsors.

“It is truly an honor to receive this extraordinary award, named after an even more extraordinary woman,” said Tomlin. “I’ve always believed, ‘collectively, women have the power to change the world’, and Ruth Ellis was and continues to be, one of our greatest examples of that power. Ruth Ellis Center’s commitment to LGBTQ youth is inspiring, and I know Ruth would be proud.”

Born and raised in Detroit, Tomlin has cultivated an impressive television, film, and standup resume that has won her numerous awards including seven Emmys, two Tonys, a Grammy, and the Screen Actors Guild Lifetime Achievement Award. Yet she is also well known for her philanthropy, supporting causes such as civil rights, health care, women’s issues, AIDS awareness, combating homelessness, and supporting the LGBTQ community in all aspects. She founded the LA LGBT Center’s Lily Tomlin/Jane Wagner Cultural Arts Center in Los Angeles and the Goosebump Garden at the LGBT Fenway Health Center in Boston, where she continues to be involved. Tomlin has been with her partner, Jane Wagner, for more than 40 years, marrying in 2013.

Event Ticket

Thursday, September 14th, 2017

Sound Board Theater, MotorCity Casino Hotel

2901 Grand River Ave. Detroit, MI 48201


VIP Reception Begins at 6:00 PM (VIP Ticket Holders Only- Complimentary Valet Outside Sound Board)

Main Event Begins at 7:00 PM (VIP & Main Event Ticket Holders Only -Complimentary Valet Outside Sound Board)

Program Begins at 8:00 PM (Balcony Ticket Holders Should Arrive By 7:45 PM – Please Use Casino Parking Decks)


VOICES 2016 PHOTO GALLERY (Password: Detroit)




Interested in supporting VOICES or another event for Ruth Ellis Center through sponsorship, silent auction items, or more?

Contact: Mark Erwin-McCormick, Director of Development

VOICES 2016 was SOLD OUT! Don't miss your chance to experience Ruth Ellis Center's signature event! Get your VOICES 2017 tickets today!