Going to Tea- Fashion Show and Fundraiser for the Ali Forney Center

Words cannot begin to describe how blessed and honored I feel that everyone came out and supported my fashion show fundraiser, “Going to Tea.” I have had the idea for quite a while to throw my own charity fundraiser ever since I was on the hosting committee for the Rustin Fund’s kick off event at the Pines, in Fire Island. I knew that I wanted my event to be a fun one that everyone would remember, and would leave feeling inspired. 

I decided that I would show my collection of swimwear, loungewear and ready to wear clothing, inspired by the freedom of Fire Island Pines, and donate the proceeds of ticket sales to the Ali Forney Center- the largest organization of its kind to provide homes and services to homeless lgbtq youth. These youth, like all of us, have dreams of living and succeeding like we all had and do.These youth also have felt the feelings of pain, and all that follows for being outcasted due to their sexual identities. I felt that in times like these, it’s imperative that we look after our own communities to see that we flourish and grow, and over all look after one another. I cried after my tour of the Ali Forney Center and felt my life change in that moment. This became even more so real for me, this became personal. 

A lot of people don’t understand the amount of work it takes to put on an event. Now, add being the creative head of the clothing to that mix, and even more so, add the responsibility of promotion (online, word of mouth and print). So much work went into the making of this show that at times I felt like I was going to fall apart. The fear an anxiety of no one coming, no one liking the show, or that my collection wouldn't be well received was ringing through my head at all times, and sometimes would melt into my dreams as I slept. I have always been good at maintaining my cool, ballet taught me that. 

However, I started to feel the stress lift as the weeks went by, by how many amazing people stepped in and volunteered to lighten the weight of my anxieties from my shoulders and contribute to Going to Tea, in ways that they could. 

Thank you so much Alex Zarlengo, (who I know from my infamous days as a gogo dancer at Splash, and very good friend ofcourse) for all of your help with organizing the models backstage to see they were in correct line up. 

Thank you so much Julius Rubio (a friend of mine who performs on Broadway and with legendary choreographer Mia Michaels) for choreographing and exquisite, and flawlessopening number for the show to set the mood of Slumber Party (my leisurewear, inspired my the sexuality of Fire Island Pines homes) along with his dancers Tori Pierce, Michael McArthur, and Sarita Colon! 

Thank you so much Igor Vavilov, Sara Rose Key, and Mark Versailles for your hair expertise and styling. 

Thank you so much to my models Ian Michael Bergeron, Franko Stevens, Juanfer De La Torre, Vinny Vega, Tomas Rogers, Alexandra DeLessandro, Vika Chen, Bradley Miller, Wes Brown, Luis Mejia, Vincent Tosi, Nautica Rowan, Christina Fun and Marcus Fiore for SLAYING THE RUNWAY. 

Thank you so much to Claudia Tessler for donating the flowers. 

Thank you so much to Dj Vito Fun for your amazing spinning!

Thank you so much to my assistants Daniel DiSimone, Danielle Smith, and David Tessarro for your help with the raffle and door admission. 

Thank you so much to Jeff Eason and Roger Wingman for capturing shots through out the night.  

Thank you so much Ivo Diaz of Tiki Tabu for your amazing staff of bartenders and security, for hosting us at Tiki Tabu Rooftop Bar, at the Sixty LES Hotel.

Needless to say, the day of the show I was running around like a chicken with it’s head cut off. up until the very last moment of the show, I. WAS. HORRIFIED. My stage fright kicked in and my fears of someone falling, someone missing their change, or the music running too long, had my sweating. But it was pointless. Everyone was stunning. No one fell. The music was timed PERFECTLY and I couldn't help but feel weightless with the afterglow of happiness.

Everyone came, and everyone loved the show. Together we raised over 9,000.00 for the Ali Forney Center, and my parents Nathan and Irma Ayon were able to come see me at what is to date, one of the biggest and most important nights of my life. Thank you guys so much for always being an inspiration to me and for teaching me that no matter what, to always choose love. 

Lastly I would like to thank those that contributed to Going to Tea by purchasing a ticket, and especially to our Sponsors Richard Winger, David Bryan and Artur Melentin, as well asto our VIP ticket purchasers Christina Bylthe, Antonio Haynes, Vinnie Petrarca, John Krawchuck, Asher and Mati Gelman, Adam Drago, Rusty Rigby, Lloyd Abesamis, and Elizabeth Nelson for your generous contributions. I love you all. 

Without all of you, this would not have been possible. You are all beautiful and I love you. 

:) Love, 

Nathan Ayon