At the height of awards season, you’d be hard-pressed to find an event more inspiring than the Family Equality Council’s Los Angeles Awards Dinner, where stars and activists from across the LGBT community gathered to recognize three standout individuals for their work supporting LGBT families around the country.
The audience had to squeeze bites between crying bouts of laughter at the event, hosted by gay dad Alec Mapa Saturday night at Universal Studios Hollywood. In between awards, Scandal star Dan Bucatinsky auctioned off the “Win a Day at Disneyland With Jane Lynch and Her Family” prize for a winning bid of more than $10,000 to go toward the total of $465,000 raised by the gala.
The first award recipient was Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe, who was introduced by a passionate reading of his outspoken open letter to Maryland state delegate Emmett C. Burns Jr., a marriage equality opponent, read by former Saturday Night Live regular Molly Shannon. In his acceptance speech he talked about why he initially spoke out and boldly stated his support for LGBT families moving forward.
“I’ll keep speaking out against every single hypocritical jackass who tries to use ‘for the children’ as a shield for intolerance and bigotry,” Kluwe said.
Glee favorite Darren Criss introduced Project 10 founder Virginia Uribe and praised her dedicated work for LGBT students in the Los Angeles public schools. Uribe spoke of her organization’s successes since its inception in 1986 and urged us all to continue in the fight against “bullying, youth suicide rates, and harsh redirect of public figures.”
The final honoree accepted an award on behalf of the NBC television network. Sean Hayes of Will & Grace, alongside Andrew Rannells from The New Normal and Girls, introduced NBC Entertainment chairman Bob Greenblatt. Before he accepted the awars, the Equality Council displayed a spectacular video clip displaying the progress NBC has made over the past 30 years, exemplifying the network’s “legacy of celebrating diversity.” Upon taking the stage, Greenblatt commented on that progress from the days of The Cosby Show to today’s shows such as The New Normal. He expressed NBC’s desire to “reflect the truth of how we live and what our families are like — all their similarities and differences and all their beauty, humor, dysfunction, and inevitably, greatness.”
Overall, the atmosphere was electric even after a somber note was struck when Jennifer Chrisler announced that the event marked the end of her eight-year tenure as executive director of the council. But she affirmed that the organization would continue to stay true to the core of its mission: “that all children — regardless of who their parents are — deserve to grow up in a world where they are treated equally.”