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George & Brad Takei honored at Vanguard Awards, the LA LGBT Center’s 45th anniversary gala

George Takei picked 1950s movie heartthrob Tab Hunter to present an award to him and his husband, Brad, over the weekend at the Los Angeles LGBT Center’s 45th anniversary gala.

The reason?

‘When I was a teenager, Tab Hunter was my heartthrob,’ Takei told the audience as the couple accepted the International Vanguard Award.

‘He was blind and gorgeous – he was a dreamboat.’

While accepting the award, Takei said he remembered when Hunter was outed in the 1960s by a magazine as being gay – more than 40 years before Hunter publicly acknowledged his sexuality in his 2005 memoir.

The memory drove Takei deep into the public as he launched his acting career and became a star as Mr. Sulu in the original Star Trek television series and feature films.

‘I realized I had to have a public life that was closeted and a private life that was hidden,’ he said. ‘I lived a closeted life for a majority of my adult life.’

That changed in 2005 when then-California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed a bill passed by both houses of the state legislature that would have made same-sex marriage legal in the state.

‘I decided I had to speak out and my voice had to be authentic,’ Takei said.

He has not looked back since and Brad Takei, already together for 20 years, were married in 2008.

‘I feel most blessed because I have the love of this most wonderful man,’ Takei said. ‘He’s my manager and he tells me what to do … and we have built our lives and our career together.

‘I feel most blessed being gay … We are proud to be part of this community.’

In addition to the Takeis, other honorees included outgoing Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky for his nearly four decades of support as an elected official of the LGBTI community in Los Angeles.

Yaroslavsky was the recipient of the Rand Schrader Distinguished Achievement Award and said: ‘It means a lot. It’s named after a person I knew quite well who was taken from us far too early because of AIDS. So many were taken from us too early.’

In accepting the award, Yaroslavsky wanted to remember ‘those who bore the burden of blazing the trail.’

He also noted that he and fellow honoree Takei go back to the 1970s when the actor was serving on the Southern California Rapid Transit District board.

‘I never watched Star Trek and I didn’t even know he was a TV star. I didn’t know he was gay. He was just a transportation geek.’

Marvel Entertainment received the Corporate Vanguard Award for its increasing inclusion of LGBT characters in its comic books and films.

Marvel’s Cort Lane, who is openly gay, accepted the award for the company.

‘We’re just trying to tell stories about real people,’ Lane said.

Among the other celebrities in attendance were Florence Henderson, Holland Taylor, Lisa Vanderpump, Wilson Cruz, Bruce Vilanch, Alex Newell (Glee), Jay Duplass (Transparent), Elizabeth Henstridge (Agents of SHIELD), and Barret Foa (NCIS: LA).

I’ll be sharing some of my red carpet interviews later today and in the coming days.


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