My night at the Family Equality Council dinner featuring Chris Kluwe, Darren Criss, Alec Mapa and more!
The Family Equality Council annual dinner in Los Angeles has become quite the hot ticket in recent years and I was among those fortunate enough to be invited to this year’s event held Saturday night at the Globe Theatre at Universal Studios.
It was a star-studded affair with Alec Mapa the hilarious host and presenters including Sean Hayes, Andrew Rannells, Darren Criss, and Molly Shannon and the event’s co-chair Dan Bucatinsky.
Others I spotted in the crowd or on the red carpet were Glee, The New Normal and American Horror Story creator Ryan Murphy, Lisa Kudrow, Justin Bartha, Georgia King, Tuc Watkins, director Adam Shankman and a whole bunch of Bravo’s Real Housewives including the Beverly Hills trio of Kyle Richards, Camille Grammer and Brandi Granville.
All were on hand for a program that honored NFL star Chris Kluwe of the Minnesota Vikings, NBC which was represented by its chairman Bob Greenblatt and a remarkable woman named Dr. Virginia Uribe who in 1984 founded the first program in US public schools to address anti-gay harassment and discrimination.
A live auction raised $10,000. The item? Six VIP tickets to Disneyland with Jane Lynch as your host. The winner? Sean Hayes!
In all, the event raised $465,000 for a group that is considered one of the most visible advocates for LGBT families and the largest provider of events, programs and services for parents who are LGBT and their children.
“We are there for our families,” Executive Director Jennifer Chrisler told the crowd. ‘We know that there’s so much that we need, have to do.”
Chrisler is ending her stint as head of the organization after eight years.
“It’s been an extraordinary privilege to do this work,” she said. “I leave knowing this work will continue. We know deep in our hearts that truth is on our side.”
I worked the red carpet and throughout the week will be sharing with you my interviews with Kluwe, Bucantinsky, Shankman, Bartha and Mapa.
Throughout the dinner, much fun was made of the award show’s decor which it was decided looked like the set of the late 60s-early 70s comedy show Laugh-In.
Said Mapa in his opening: “Could this set be any gayer? This set looks like JoAnne Worley farted!”
The first award of the night went to Kluwe who had slipped by virtually unnoticed on the red carpet.
By the end of evening, everyone was talking about him.
He’s the NFL player whose visibility as an LGBT activist grew exponentially last September when he blasted Maryland Assembly Delegate Emmett C. Burns Jr. in a withering, profanity-laced letter.
That letter, which included such phrases as ‘lustful cockmonster,’ ‘colossal foot-in-mouth clusterfuck,’ and ‘Holy fucking shitballs,’ was read verbatum – and with great flair – to the star-studded audience at the Globe Theatre by actress Molly Shannon of Saturday Night Live fame.
Kluwe’s masterful use of language and his well-reasoned sentiments in the letter to Burns caused it to go viral. He wrote it after the legislator complained to the owner of the Baltimore Ravens when linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo made public statements in support of same sex marriage.
Kluwe, a married straight man with two children, told the crowd that he wrote his letter and became an advocate for marriage equality before that mainly for the kids of same-sex couples.
‘The fight for gay rights is about the children, it’s about having access to the same laws, the same benefits, the same protections so these children can have every advantage and a chance to succeed at life,’ he said. ‘It’s about not having to worry about being bullied on your way to school or while you’re walking down the street. It’s about living in a stable home with parents who love each other and who just so happen to be the same sex.’
He added: That’s why I wrote my letter, that’s why I spoke out, that’s why I’ll continue speaking out against every single hypocritical jackass’ because ‘those people aren’t thinking about the children at all, they’re thinking about themselves.’
He brought the house down when he also said: ‘So I say fuck those people! … I say live your own life however you want to live it, I say love who you want – it’s nobody’s business but your own. I say treat others the way you like being treated with compassion, dignity and respect – the way human beings are supposed to act.’
Also getting a standing ovation was Virginia Uribe who, as a counselor and teacher at Fairfax High School in Los Angeles, founded Project 10 in 1984. It was the first program in US history to address anti-gay harassment and discrimination in public schools.
It became a model for other school districts in the US.
“Things are happening so fast now so it’s difficult to remember how things were back in the 1980s,” Uribe told the crowd.
The recalled how Catholic Cardinal Roger Mahony and the Traditional Values Coalition had called Project 1o a “misguided attempt at social engineering.” Republican Senator Jesse Helms even called the school principal to complain.
Uribe said the principal’s answer to Mahony, Helms and anyone else was always the same: “We are public educators and we serve all students.”
Although there are now more than 3,500 gay-straight student alliances in public schools across the US, Uribe knows the work she began nearly three decades ago is far from finished.
“The anti-gay bullying continues, and suicides,” she said. “Harsh rhetoric and cowardice of school officials makes it more difficult. There’s much work to be done.”