SAN FRANCISCO – GLAAD, the world’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) media advocacy organization, honored global superstar Paula Abdul; Emmy-nominated star, co-creator, and showrunner of ‘Schitt’s Creek’ Dan Levy; and entrepreneur and business executive Ali Rosenthal at the 2019 GLAAD Gala San Francisco on September 28 at the Hyatt Regency San Francisco. The event was hosted by ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’ alum and Broadway star Peppermint and featured celebrity guests, including Adam Rippon, the cast of ‘Schitt’s Creek,’ Alicia Garza, Eva Gutowski, Justin Tranter, Ariadne Getty, and August Getty. Singer Garrett Clayton also performed a musical medley during the event.
The GLAAD Gala San Francisco celebrates and features storytellers and tech innovators who accelerate LGBTQ acceptance and helps fund GLAAD’s digital advocacy work to grow LGBTQ inclusion in digital and social media. The 2019 GLAAD Gala San Francisco is presented by Gilead, Ketel One Family-Made Vodka, and Wells Fargo, with official partner Google.
At the event, celebrities sported blue ‘&’ pins for GLAAD’s Together movement – GLAAD’s campaign to represent the power of solidarity and great accomplishments that occur when marginalized community groups – including women, Muslims, Black Americans, immigrants, people of color, and LGBTQ people – stand together.
During the event, American pop star Paula Abdul was honored with the Ariadne Getty Ally Award. Abdul is only the second person to receive this honor. Throughout her career, Abdul has been a dedicated ally to the LGBTQ community by bringing awareness to issues affecting LGBTQ people, specifically HIV/AIDS.
Olympic champion Adam Rippon introduced Abdul, where he highlighted her dedicated allyship to the LGBTQ community: ‘Allies like Paula inspire others to follow in her footsteps. Tonight we get to show her how grateful we are that she has used her voice to accelerate acceptance for the LGBTQ community.’
In her acceptance speech, Abdul paid an emotional tribute to her LGBTQ fans, as well her friends she lost during the HIV/AIDS epidemic: ‘It was extremely devastating when we lost so many members of our family during the HIV/AIDS crisis. I lost so many beautiful colleagues and friends& It was a heart-crushing time. People who’d contributed their creativity and talent were passing away at an alarming rate. I could not sit back and be quiet. I was – and will always be – passionate about raising funds and awareness to help people learn the facts about HIV and AIDS, and about our fellow human beings in need of help.’
Abdul also honored her late parents: ‘I’ve experienced the highest of highs this year – including this evening – and on the complete opposite end, I also experienced extreme sorrow in losing both of my parents. But what my parents taught me that matters most is empathy, compassion, gratitude, and acceptance for all – these are the fundamental traits that they instilled in me that have made me the woman I am today.’
Emmy-nominated showrunner, writer, director, producer, and actor Dan Levy was honored with the Davidson/Valentini Award at the [gala]. ‘Schitt’s Creek’ co-stars Emily Hampshire, Sarah Levy, Annie Murphy, and Noah Reid introduced Levy, highlighting Levy’s dedication to accelerating acceptance for LGBTQ people.
After speaking out in support of the National Transgender Visibility March, which took place in Washington, DC, earlier in the day. Dan Levy used his acceptance speech to talk about the importance of creating ‘Schitt’s Creek’ to bring greater visibility and representation to LGBTQ people on television: ‘It was a small way of paying back the generosity that had been shown to me, while at the same time creating space on television for queer characters that I could relate to. The result was ‘Schitt’s Creek.’ A place where everybody fits in. Where love is celebrated and people’s differences are a reason to start a conversation, not end one. It’s a place where my character, David, a pansexual man with really intense pants and sweaters, can fall in love with his now-fiancé, Patrick, a gay man, without fear of consequence. It’s a place where acceptance incubates joy and creates a clarity that allows people to see themselves and each other more deeply.’
During the evening, host Peppermint made a powerful speech about the National Trans Visibility March. In her remarks, Peppermint talked about the ongoing cycle of violence faced by trans people, specifically trans women of color: ‘This unrelenting cycle of despair puts one in three trans women in extreme poverty and leads many of us to substance abuse, which subjects many of us to violence and survival sex work. Trans women of color are twice as likely to be unemployed and live in extreme poverty as our white counterparts, more than 40 percent of us experience homelessness, and nearly half of Black trans women attempt suicide.’
Peppermint continued, ‘Nineteen trans women have been murdered already this year, and 18 of those 19 victims have been Black trans women. Many of us escaped murder only to remain inside a cycle of poverty, abuse, and oppression that seems unbreakable. But it’s not unbreakable.’
Ali Rosenthal, the founder of Leadout Capital, was also honored with the Ric Weiland Award for her work as an innovator in tech and new media who is advancing equality and recognition of the LGBTQ community.
During the event, GLAAD president and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis drew attention to the recent Presidential Candidate Forum on LGBTQ Issues hosted by GLAAD and the ongoing fight to ensure that LGBTQ Americans are protected under the law: ‘On October 8th, just ten days from now, GLAAD will be on the steps of the Supreme Court, where justices will hear oral arguments in three cases affecting employment rights, and we all need to send one message: firing someone just for being LGBTQ should not be up for debate. The GLAAD Media Team will be in front of the courthouse sharing stories, informing the media of the risks at stake, and making sure our voices are heard. GLAAD will not stop until our rights are fully protected.’
During the GLAAD Gala San Francisco, singer and actor Garrett Clayton performed a medley of ‘I Left My Heart in San Francisco’ and ‘Cabaret.’
YouTube sensation Eva Gutowski introduced the GLAAD Rising Star Grant, presented by Netflix. This year’s recipient is Giselle Ariel Bleuz, a young trans writer, actor, and filmmaker. The GLAAD Rising Stars program empowers and invests in the next generation of LGBTQ change makers, whose advocacy is changing their local communities and the culture at large. Grants are awarded annually to LGBTQ youth and support initiatives that champion intersectional LGBTQ issues, including racial justice, immigration rights, and transgender equality.
GLAAD rewrites the script for LGBTQ acceptance. As a dynamic media force, GLAAD tackles tough issues to shape the narrative and provoke dialogue that leads to cultural change. GLAAD protects all that has been accomplished and creates a world where everyone can live the life they love. For more information, please visit www.glaad.org or connect with GLAAD on Facebook and Twitter.
Courtesy of GLAAD