Marcia Gay Harden Plays It Straight

06/22/2001 at 08:01 AM EDT

Supporters of amfAR (the American Foundation for AIDS Research) were not about to let a New York rain dampen their spirits Thursday night, reports PEOPLE. Held as a kickoff to Gay Pride weekend, the 2nd annual Honoring With Pride event attracted big-money donors both gay and straight and paid tribute to AIDS research crusaders Dr. Martin Markowitz, Martin Delaney (of Project Inform), Dr. Melanie Thompson and Phill Wilson (of the African-American AIDS Policy and Training Institute/National Gay and Lesbian Leadership Forum). Guest host was columnist Liz Smith and "Pollock" Oscar winner Marcia Gay Harden. The actress, 41, told PEOPLE: I can't imagine anybody not being touched by this devastatingly tragic disease. I think amfAR understood that if I could help serve this cause in any way, I would make myself available to them do it. Or maybe (it was) my middle name!" amfAR, which is the nation's leading nonprofit organization for AIDS research, has spent more than $175 million since 1985 on its programs and awarded more than 1,850 research grants worldwide.

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