LA Benefit Honors Pro-Gay Stars, Raises $465,000 for FEC
NBC stars descended on Universal Studios Hollywood on Feb. 9 for the ninth annual Family Equality Council Los Angeles Awards Dinner. Molly Shannon, Sean Hayes, Andrew Rannells and Darren Criss presented awards honoring the NBC network, Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe, and Project 10 founder Dr. Virginia Uribe. The benefit raised $465,000 ($80,000 that night alone) for the organization, which supports same-sex parented families.
"As the national advocate for the 1 million LGBT parents raising 2 million children in the US, we are the voice protecting, advancing, and pressing for full freedom for our families," outgoing Executive Director Jennifer Chrisler said to the packed audience at Universal Studios’ Globe Theatre.
"Saturday Night Live" veteran Molly Shannon presented the first award of the night to Kluwe, a straight father of two known for his vocal support of the LGBT community. Only a week earlier, he called out San Francisco 49er Chris Culliver for homophobic remarks he made before the Super Bowl.
Shannon hilariously recited Kluwe’s scathingly sarcastic (and at points, profane) open letter to Maryland lawmaker Emmet Burns, who tried to have fellow NFL linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo benched for voicing his support for marriage equality.
"’For the children’ is something you hear the other side use a lot, and you know what? They’re right, just not in the way they think," Kluwe said. "I will continue speaking out against every single hypocritical jackass who tries to use ’for the children’ as a shield for intolerance and bigotry."
"Glee" star Darren Criss presented an award to the founder of the first school program in the country to reach out to LGBT students, Project 10. Retired Fairfax High School teacher Dr. Virginia Uribe recalled the backlash she experienced creating what would become the model for school districts across the country to create safe campuses for LGBT students.
"A couple of years ago, a young gay man was elected prom queen at Fairfax High School with an overwhelmingly supportive student body who probably would not have understood what all of the fuss was about back in the ’80s," Uribe said. "So things have come around full circle."
NBC Chairman Bob Greenblatt accepted an award recognizing the network for its LGBT inclusiveness with shows like "Will & Grace" and "The New Normal." The network made a number of notable small-screen firsts over the years: the first interracial kiss, first lesbian kiss and wedding, both the first black and gay lead characters, and the first gay sitcom.
"Network television doesn’t have to promote a particular agenda, but it does have to be relevant and honest and I believe it should reflect the truth about who were, how we live and what our families are like," said Greenblatt, who was given his award by "Will & Grace’s" Sean Hayes, and "The New Normal’s" Andrew Rannells.
Other stars spotted in attendance were Lisa Kudrow, Ryan Murphy, Adam Shankman, Justin Bartha, Georgia King, Rumer Willis, and a handful of Bravo’s "Real Housewives."
"Real Housewives of Beverly Hills" star Kyle Richards said the growing number of LGBT characters on screen can have a lasting impact.
"So many kids are still not comfortable coming out and I think it’s making it easier for them," Richards told EDGE. "I think we’ll have a lot less suicides and bullying and I think we’ve made huge strides."
Comedian Alec Mapa hosted the evening’s events.
Chrisler said the funds raised will support Family Equality Council’s programs, like Outspoken Generation, which sends dozens of teens raised by LGBT parents to speak across the country.
"I leave knowing that this work will continue thanks to the force of our commitments and our convictions and because we know deep in our hearts that truth is on our side," Chrisler said. "Our children, our families, cannot, will not be denied."