Scroll To Top

How an HIV Testing Van Helped Recruit Ariadne Getty as an LGBTQ Ally

Gigi Gorgeous, Nats Getty, Ariadne Getty, August Getty.

Variety's Philanthropist of the Year shared the remarkable story of how she came to support LGBTQ causes.


Pictured above: Gigi Gorgeous, Nats Getty, Ariadne Getty, and August Getty.

Ariadne Getty was named Philanthropist of the Year Tuesday by Variety at a dinner and ceremony at the Montage in Beverly Hills.

The philanthropist was celebrated by a curated crowd that included family members -- among them her LGBTQ children, August and Nats Getty, as well as her daughter-in-law Gigi Gorgeous Getty -- and community leaders like GLAAD CEO Sarah Kate Ellis and the Los Angeles LGBT Center CEO Lorri L. Jean.

"Ariadne Getty has spent a lifetime giving generously to causes she cares deeply about," Jean told the tony assemblage, which also included Trace Lysette, Raymond Braun, Hannah Hart, Connor Franta, Johnny Sibilly, Variety's Marc Malkin, and ABC's Karl Schmid. "We would be here all night if we talked about all of the important work her extraordinary generosity over the many decades has made possible here in Los Angeles, across the county, and around the world."

Indeed, Getty, 57, is one of the world's most vital donors to LGBTQ causes. Through the Ariadne Getty Foundation, the philanthropist has given over $4.5 million to the Los Angeles LGBT Center -- an amount used to establish the Ariadne Getty Foundation Youth Academy and the Ariadne Getty Foundation Senior Housing, which will help provide affordable housing for senior citizens. A member of GLAAD's board of directors, Getty also bestowed a gift of $15 million to launch the GLAAD Media Institute, which helps train the next generation of LGBTQ leaders.

At the event, Getty -- who was presented with her award by Variety's editor-in-chief, Claudia Eller --credited her children with guiding her on the path toward allyship, as well as a string of events that included meeting Jean at a fundraiser for the L.A. LGBT Center at the home of Independence Day director Roland Emmerich. Meeting Ellis at the GLAAD Media Awards -- Getty referred to both as friends -- was a milestone as well.

However, it was a van on Santa Monica Boulevard in West Hollywood -- considered the "gayborhood" in Los Angeles -- that also marked a turning point for the philanthropist. As she regaled to the attentive crowd at the Montage, Getty visited the vehicle, which provides STI testing and informational materials, after her 25-year-old son August, who is gay, first began dating.

"Secretly, I would leave the house at nighttime and go into West Hollywood on Santa Monica Boulevard. And there would be this van, and it had condoms, it had literature, it had all the important things that were not only of help to the LGBTQ community, but also its allies, families. What does a mom do? So I get all this literature ... all the condoms .... [August was] horribly embarrassed -- right now, as he was then," Getty said with a laugh.

At a later time, Getty had recounted her visit to the van to Jean. Jean's reply? "That [van] was one of ours."

"Wow," Getty said at the ceremony. "The center helped me when I needed help. This beautiful cycle. Lorri, thank you."

Referencing the recent marriage of Nats and Gigi, whose relationship was The Advocate's April/May cover story, Getty expressed an appreciation for her family and found family, which includes the LGBTQ friends that were introduced into her life through her children. It was a common bond she felt with the mission of the LGBT Center. "It brings people together," she said of the LGBTQ organization. "Only then do you understand that your involvement is so needed."

Dominic Conover -- a teen activist with Shelly's Voice, who recently shared his story of speaking out against his antigay Catholic school in an oped for The Advocate -- attested to the power of Getty's generosity. To The Advocate, Conover said the Ariadne Getty Foundation "helped me get back on my feet and start advocating for justice" after his school tried to silence his activism. Currently, he and Shelly's Voice are encouraging others to write letters to Catholic leaders to demand a more LGBTQ-inclusive church.

"She gives with her heart, as Lorri Jean said, and with no strings attached," Ellis said in her introduction of Getty. "When you're trying to raise money and fund work, Ari trusts the leadership of that work and doesn't try to micromanage it. And that's a really big deal for leaders in a movement because a lot of people give money but there are a lot of strings attached and you have to do certain things. Ari gives you money because she believes in what you're doing and that's a huge vote of confidence."

Advocate Channel - The Pride StoreOut / Advocate Magazine - Fellow Travelers & Jamie Lee Curtis

From our Sponsors

Most Popular

Latest Stories

Daniel Reynolds

Daniel Reynolds is the editor of social media for The Advocate. A native of New Jersey, he writes about entertainment, health, and politics.
Daniel Reynolds is the editor of social media for The Advocate. A native of New Jersey, he writes about entertainment, health, and politics.