How Baccarat Channeled Its Support for a Polo Tournament Into a Brighter Future for LGBTQ+ People
With a big assist from Baccarat, the recently-held International Gay Polo Tournament sprinkled LGBTQ+ joy throughout Palm Beach, Fla., in addition to raising a substantial donation to the onePULSE Foundation.
Baccarat – the French luxury brand behind some of the world’s finest tableware, lighting, decor, flacons, and jewelry – sponsored a team and numerous events at the April polo competition. The Gay Polo League, launched in 2006, is a nonprofit organization of LGBTQ+ athletes from around the globe. Along with friendly competition, the organization devotes much of its energy to philanthropic causes, which may be part of the reason the league was awarded the “Champion of Equity and Diversity in Sports” this year by the Palm Beach County Sports Commission.
In conjunction with this year’s tournament, Baccarat and Polotini – the fundraising arm of the International Gay Polo Tournament – hosted WIGSTOCK!, where attendees wore artificial tresses and glam makeup while being entertained by drag legend Varla Jean Merman and, most importantly, raising money for onePULSE, the charitable organization founded by Barbara Poma after the 2016 Pulse tragedy. As sponsor of WIGSTOCK!, Baccarat donated $25,000 to onePULSE, while Baccarat SVP Ward Simmons rallied partygoers to raise an additional $100,000.
Baccarat CEO Jim Shreve says his 258-year-old company has long strived to support the communities that need it most and their contributions at the International Gay Polo Tournament and to onePULSE put that desire into action.
“This past January, I visited the onePULSE memorial in Orlando and saw firsthand the extraordinary work Barbara Poma and her team are doing to create a safe haven for LGBTQ+ people in Orlando and around the world,” Shreve says. “As a member of the LGBTQ+ community first and foremost, and leader of a company with so much history, nothing gives me more pleasure to contribute to their mission and help build their foundation and to align our brand with positive change for that community.”
Poma expressed extreme gratitude with Baccarat’s donation, saying, “The spirit, values and actions of companies like Baccarat epitomize all that’s right in the world, and we are incredibly appreciative to have their continued support.”
Baccarat’s donation was made in the name of Reute Butler, a prominent figure in the polo world – his family was instrumental in making America a polo capital after they built 11 polo fields near Chicago, ultimately creating a home for the U.S. Open for a quarter of a century.
Besides WIGSTOCK! and the tournament, festivities included a tailgate competition and a Haute House, an influencer tent with online social stars including the star of Skin Wars, Avi Ram, influential Palm Beach historian Rick Rose, socialites Hallie Rosenthal and Christina Nicholson, lifestyle and destination social star Marco Arrieta, and health and beauty bombshell Dr. Kandace Kichler. Besides Baccarat, companies like Cherry Knoll Farms, First Republic Bank, and Woodford Preserve hosted teams during the tournament, with Team Baccarat nabbing the Senator’s Cup and Woodford Reserve winning the Founder’s Cup.
The International Gay Polo Tournament brings 3,000 players and attendees to Palm Beach every year, with 16 LGBTQ+ polo players from six countries representing in 2022. While fun is always had at the event, Gay Polo League founder Chip McKenney says the tournament’s altruism is its greatest legacy.
“We are proud to have raised $125,000 for onePULSE Foundation,” McKenney says. “We look forward to continuing to support the great organization to build a memorial and education center dedicated to the victims of the Pulse Nightclub shooting. Sometimes, like now, ‘thank you’ doesn’t seem to say enough.”
Directed by David Boatman and @boatman_media