On Saturday, September 15, The Wiltern theater in Los Angeles was overtaken by stars and scholars, for the "Voices on Point" concert, a gala fundraiser for the Point Foundation. The event raised nearly $330,000 for the Foundation, which awards scholarships to deserving LGBTQ students who want to pursue their higher education dreams, but lack the financial, familial, or institutional support to do so. The Advocate was a media sponsor of the event.
The concert, accompanied by a catered dinner, was hosted by Hal Sparks, an outspoken ally and comedian best known for his role of Michael Novotny on Queer As Folk.
"The moment-to-moment, day-to-day reaching out is really what the Point Foundation is about, and it's really important," said Sparks. "To give kids in the LGBT community a leg up when they may be the most vulnerable, there's value in that."
Musical accompaniment was provided by headliner Robin Thicke, who was joined by Broadway's John Tartaglia (Avenue Q), Rock Mafia, TV's Ellen Greene (who performed a moving rendition of "Not While I'm Around" from Sweeney Todd), and Dancing With The Stars' Mark Ballas.
The star-studded evening featured current Point Scholars, accompanied by celebrities including Queen Latifah, former 'N Sync member Lance Bass, Law & Order: SVU's Judith Light, Cougar Town and Dawson's Creek actress Busy Phillips, Partners actor Michael Urie, and The Newsroom's Thomas Sodaski.
These celebrities and more strutted their stuff on the red carpet before the event, where The Advocate caught up with several of them. Read on to see what each had to say about The Point Foundation's importance, and what they would have done with a scholarship.
"For these kids, my hope for them, and the unfortunate necessity for them, is that they become eventual members of the power structure of our country, our legal system, and our corporate structure. Because that's how things change."
Sparks also offered a timeline for the future of LGBT equality:
"Five years from today, you will see an understanding of 'it doesn't matter.' This will be the political platform: It is inconsequential what your sexual identification is… There will be a conversational embarrassment by those who are bigoted against it, where they will no longer feel safe to be there. They're already moving in that direction. That's why they're flipping out.
"But in 10 years, we will look upon equal rights as far as gays and lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people marrying, the way we look at women not having the vote or interracial marriage in the 60s. In a decade. There will be fighters all along the way, and it will be tooth and nail at certain points, and we'll certainly have periods where it'll feel like we've moved back two years… But it takes these kinds of movements, these kind of pushes forward, to recognize how many knuckle-draggers we have amongst us."
"These are the leaders that are really about to change the world. And that's what's so important about the Point Foundation. What we are doing is not just giving them scholarships, we are giving them a scholarship, we are giving them mentorship, and we are giving them hope that life can be different for them. And they are such extraordinary young people, that they are not just going to do things in the LGBT community, they will do things in the community at large."
"When I was that age, I grew up in a really poor community, where my dreams were squashed because of financial situations. So personally, I looked past those belief systems, and was like, No, I can make it, I can figure out how to do it. But to help these kids make their dreams come true without struggling, I mean I did some pretty nasty jobs. One of them, as an example, I cleaned fraternity houses, like with toothbrushes, just to pay for food. I worked hard to try to move ahead, so I'm grateful that these kids don't have to do things like that, and we'll give them a chance to make their dreams come true."
"I'm going to be blatantly honest - I beat up a lot of people for my gay friends, because they were spoken to in a bad way. And I mean, getting violent is not the right thing to do, but that's how I used to handle the situation because I was very angry about it. Times have changed — but not enough — and I do feel that people should support more… I want my gay fans to know that I love them dearly, and if anyone bothers them, they can fucking email me and I have no problem kicking ass."
"When I was a kid, there were not LGBTQ scholarship opportunities, at least not that I was aware of. Now there are organizations that are helping to support the higher education of the LGBTQ community. We have a lot of LGBTQ youth who are living in families where they are a minority in the family. Their parents are non-LGBTQ, their sisters and brothers are as well, so Point sets them up with mentors and the money that they need to go on to these universities where they meet more like-minded individuals, they meet more people like them, and many, many times, they get opportunities they wouldn't get otherwise."
"I wanted to be an astronaut. I would have used it for math and science. I would have been some kind of space engineer, for sure, with the hopes of one day going to space."
And Bass had a special comment for Advocate readers:
"I love my Advocate readers, it's a wonderful community to be a part of. And I'm glad to be a part of things like this, seeing our community come together, and such powerful people in the entertainment industry, it's nice because you haven't seen that in the past 10 years. And it's getting so much better."
"LGBTQ causes have always been something close to my heart because, as a mom, as a person growing up, I've always just had a problem with people treating LGBTQ kids and teenagers as if they were less than, because of something that's out of their control… And the Point Foundation has done such incredible work with our scholars and we've been able to see now, over the past 11 years, where they've gone with this encouragement. Look, it would be great if we all had super-supportive parents, who embraced us for our differences and encouraged us, but not everyone is lucky enough to get that. And so these foundations are incredibly important top step in and say, you're worth it, I believe in you, you're going to be someone and be something and you don't have to fall to the wayside. You don't have to be invisible and not be heard."