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Honoree Jane Lynch basks in the spotlight at the LA Gay & Lesbian Center’s 39th Anniversary Gala

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PHENOMENAL WOMAN: Jane Lynch may have become one of the biggest stars on the planet in the past year, but her involvement with the LA Gay & Lesbian Center dates back to the early 90s.

That’s why it was especially gratifying to see this star, at the very top of her game, receive the Rand Schrader Distinguished Achievement at last night’s s 39th Anniversary Gala where such stars as Lily Tomlin, Kathy Griffin Matthew Morrison and Glee creator Ryan Murphy were on hand to pay tribute.
Carol Burnett, who guest stars in this week’s Glee episode as the mother of Sue Sylvester (Lynch) was scheduled to participate and was at rehearsals at the Century Plaza Hotel earlier Saturday. The comedy legend received word that her sister’s husband had died unexpectedly and she immediately left to be with her family.
photoMurphy, who always had Lynch in mind to play Sue Sylvester, took the stage and said: “What a year Jane Lynch is having. She’s won every award possible, topped off by the Emmy, She got married and had a child and most importantly, she became queen of the gays.”

The crowd erupted with cheers.

Added Murphy: “Jane has gone from successful working actress to icon and I could not be more proud of you Jane. She accomplished this tremendous feat the old fashioned way, through hard work and a quiet personal belief.”

He joked that when he has to have “please stop posing for porno pictures” discussions with young members of the cast [in reference to the controversial sexy GQ photos of three of the show's stars], he always points to Jane for inspiration.

Said Murphy: “She became an overnight success in her 40s and even now is the first one on the set to say ‘please’ and ‘thank you.’ Jane has gratitude for her huge success.” He called Jane “the consummate professional, always prepared, always enthusiastic, always humble.”

“Sometimes in the Glee set, Jane and I will look over wistfully at the Glee kids as they trot out pornographic posses for future magazine photo shoots and she’ll say something like ‘Can you believe this is happening?’ and I’ll say, “Yes … because I always knew that Jane Lynch would be more popular than chocolate.”

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Morrison, who plays Sylvester’s faculty nemesis Will Schuester on Glee, presented the award to his co-star and said: “Glee has been tremendously fortunate to count among its cast members a performer of impeccable comic timing and improvisational skills who consistently elevates.”  Then he jokingly added: “The thing about Jane Lynch is that she has actually been able to keep up with my impeccable comic timing and improvisational skills.”

On a more serious note he said of the actress: “She’s always been true to herself and she’s never hidden who she is. In all that Jane has done, she has served as a valuable role model.”

Lynch appeared genuinely moved by the tributes which also included remarks from Tomlin and Burnett (Lily did all of the lines, to be delivered as a comedy duo, in hilarious fashion – I’ll have that in a separate post) and she said to Morrison: “You are a credit to your profession and the human race. I’m grateful and deeply touched that you’re here tonight. Getting to know you has been the classic peeling of the onion …. I’m proud to call you my friend.”

She went on to say: “I’ve been ripping off Carol Burnett and Lily Tomlin for most of my life and I have no idea what wonderful thing I must have done in a past life to deserve to be in their company.”

Before there were VCRs and DVRs, Jane would use her dad’s audio recorder to record The Carol Burnett Show: “They all had so much fun up there, they had a blast and I knew that that’s what I wanted to do. …. Lily and Carol blazed a trail for me and so many women who want to work in this business of being funny. You live life huge. You have a blast and you make a lot of funny.”

She then admitted: “I’m not an activist. I’m too lazy and narcissistic. I am by nature, however, a complainer. I get lots of energy from that.I’m a bloated armchair warrior with a of opinions, a lot of answers, no inclination to do anything. But I do care. That’s why I write checks.”

All kidding aside, Lynch paid tribute to the Center’s CEO Lorri L. Jean and the staff and volunteers: “They’re in the trenches … providing actual relief.”

She also had words of support “to those living in the shadows [of the closet]. We love you and we want you to know and to see what is possible for you.”

Jane joked: “If there’s one thing I could say to my 17 year old self, it’s lose the perm” before adding more seriously: “It gets better…. “It will get better for kids today.”

She closed by sharing that “Being gay and the journey of coming to terms with it and finally embracing it, shouting it  out turns out to be the biggest blessing of my life … and look! I got an award for it!”

MORE GALA COVERAGE TO COME!!!

FILE UNDER: Benefits, Glee

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