Queer Families, Foster Youth Celebrated at Extraordinary Families Gala
Extraordinary Families' honorees Robbie Pierce, equalpride's Neal Broverman, HBO's Francesca Orsi, and Emmy winner Paris Barclay
Los Angeles County has the largest child welfare system in the country, with over 16,000 children living in foster homes, each with a story of neglect, abuse, or a caregiver's absence. Thirty years ago, Sylvia Fogelman created the nonprofit foster/adoption agency that is now known as Extraordinary Families, where prospective LGBTQIA+ parents and children have been embraced from the onset.
By supporting same-sex couples and LGBTQ+ single parents, Extraordinary Families has helped tens of thousands of children in foster care find homes, either as a temporary placement or a permanent one.
Extraordinary Families celebrated its 30th anniversary last week at a gala in Hollywood, with Drag Race judge Carson Kressley serving as master of ceremonies. Awards were handed out to out Emmy-winning director, producer, and writer Paris Barclay (Sons of Anarchy, Glee, House, The West Wing NYPD Blue) who, with husband Christopher Mason, is an adoptive parent. Barclay received the Visionary Award from Sons of Anarchy star Katey Sagal, and he gave an impassioned speech about the work of Extraordinary Families and the deep pride he carries for his family.
Also honored was Francesca Orsi, Executive Vice President of Programming and Head of HBO's Drama Series & Films. Orsi received her award from none other than Last of Us star Pedro Pascal (who is Orsi's good friend — and employee!). Orsi survived a difficult childhood to now become one of the most powerful (and respected) women in Hollywood.
Finally, the Sylvia Fogelman Founder's Award was given to married parents Robbie Pierce and equalpride's own Neal Broverman, and was presented by former foster child Victoria Rowell, an Emmy-nominated actress and author. Pierce is a high school teacher at the Los Angeles Unified School District and Broverman is the editorial director at equalpride, publisher of The Advocate, Out, Out Traveler, and Plus. Accepting their award, Pierce and Broverman described their harrowing parenthood journey with their children, which included the family being harassed and nearly attacked by a homophobe on an Amtrak train last year. They turned the ordeal into a rallying cry for the public to embrace all families, including ones that look different.
The gala also honored several exceptional young women who aged out of foster care and are now thriving thanks in part to assistance from Extraordinary Families.