By Jase Peeples
Originally published on Advocate.com May 07 2014 4:16 PM ET
The Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles held its Third Annual Voice Awards Saturday at the Globe Theatre on the backlot of Universal Studios. The annual awards show honors individuals and organizations who have raised their voices in the fight for LGBT equality around the world and celebrates their achievements with an evening of unforgettable music, food, and live performances.
Several out celebrities and LGBT allies were in attendance, and the evening’s festivities stirred up an air of inspiring energy that was obviously felt by the event’s special guests as they walked the red carpet. The impact of the increasing number of out LGBT people in the media was a topic many were eager to address. “Growing up in the ’80s, there was no one out in music, and so there was no one for me to look up to and idolize as a gay kid,” said former ’NSync member and radio show host Lass Bass. “That’s why I love the era we’re in right now and I love seeing the reaction from the kids. They’re looking up to the Neil Patrick Harrises of the world – people who can help them feel better about themselves at a younger age. When I was a kid, I always felt like there was something wrong with me and no kid should ever have to go through that.”
Olympic gold medalist and activist Greg Louganis said he believed the true measure of the work that has been done to further equality can be seen in today’s youth. “It’s wonderful to see our younger generation’s view on sexuality has become much more fluid than just LGBT or any label. And so I think we have much to learn from them. It’s great to see the evolution of a generation that is appreciating individuals for what they have to offer and who they are.”
Actor and LGBT ally Guy Wilson – who currently plays the groundbreaking gay character Will Horton on Days of Our Lives – added that an event like the Voice Awards was a perfect way to celebrate the work of LGBT activists, as the arts have long been an important outlet for effecting positive change and a safe space for many young LGBT people. “I know for me, the arts are a medium where I can be unapologetically myself,” he said. “In my opinion, expressing one’s self is an unapologetic act and in that moment there’s no need to feel any self-doubt. That’s why it’s so important the arts continue to be available to young LGBT people who are in need of that outlet.”
For artists who may still be struggling with the idea of coming out of the closet for fear they may sabotage their career, trailblazing out singer-songwriter Melissa Etheridge offered encouraging words from her own experience. “You can’t live and make choices based on what you’re afraid of, or you’ll just be constantly afraid,” she said, noting that coming out of the closet freed her creatively. “It’s no fun when you’re not yourself. Believe me. There’s no fame, there’s no amount of money, there’s no number 1 record that worth not being yourself. It’s just not going to be satisfying.”
Etheridge and Hollywood producer Bruce Cohen accepted the Inspiration Award on behalf of Uprising of Love, an organization supporting the embattled LGBT population of Russia. Other honorees were Crown Prince Manvendra Singh Gohil of India, a gay man who has founded an organization fighting AIDS, who received the Humanitarian Voice Award; philanthropists Brian Pendleton and Chad Goldman, recipients of the State Farm Good Neighbor Voice Award; and the Montgomery family, subject of the documentary Familes Are Forever, about a gay teen finding acceptance in the family, with the Ally Voice Award.
View photos, courtesy of Connie Kurtew, from the event on the following page.
Attendees gather outside the Globe Theatre.
The celebration begins.
Melissa Etheridge strikes a pose on the red carpet.
Lance Bass smiles for the cameras.
Voice Awards cohost Pauley Perrette works the red carpet before the show.
Members of GMCLA raise their voices at the annual Voice Awards.