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My night at the HRC gala…

There was no denying that this was one special Human Rights Campaign gala.

With the California Supreme Court deciding whether to uphold Proposition 8 and if the 18,000-plus same-sex marriages performed in the state last year are legal, passions are running high and people are speaking from their heart. It was an amazing night inside the ballroom of the Century Plaza Hotel. I don’t think anyone there will ever forget it.


I arrived about an hour before dinner with plans to get a glass of wine and stroll around the silent auction. I hadn’t arranged to work the press line but when I saw the list of VIPs expected, I asked for and was granted a prime spot. I guess Greg In Hollywood has arrived! The wine would have to wait.

First up was the talented Jane Lynch, one of the evening’s presenters. The pending Supreme Court decision was on her mind: “I think everyone’s hopes were up last year and I think hopes aren’t so high right now. It’s a shame that it’s taking so long because it’s just an inevitable thing. We’re doing it piecemeal, but we’re doing it. We’re on our way.”

The always busy Jane is currently in production on a new Fox series, Glee, from Ryan Murphy who brought us Nip/Tuck: “It’s about a high school glee club and it’s stupendous. (Murphy) has quite a record and we’ve got all these Broadway babes in the cast – kids from Spring Awakening and South Pacific and they’re all part of this glee club. I’m the head of the cheerleaders and I’m out to destroy them!”

I’m so gonna watch!

It was fun to see my good friend Trevor Daley but we didn’t get much of a chance to talk until after the dinner because he was busy helping his boss, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, navigate the crowd. The senator posed for photos with NAACP Chairman Julian Bond and HRC head Joe Solmonsese but wasn’t doing any interviews. I left my spot on the line to try and get a word with her and managed to get one question in: What are the senator’s thoughts on the Prop. 8 case currently before the California Supreme Court.

She replied:  “I so regret that Proposition 8 passed. It clearly is a taking away of a right that the constitution says all people posses. I thought it was going to be defeated but it is not the end, it’s just the beginning.”

Also chatted with Mr,. Bond (see interview HERE), Wanda Sykes, Candis Cayne, and Michelle Clunie. Will share those in the next day or two. My friend Karen Ocamb, news editor of Frontiers IN Los Angeles Magazine didn’t have an assigned spot so I invited her to share my space. Karen is the hardest-working journalist I know and so smart and generous.

It was good to get a few words in with West Hollywood City Councilman John Duran, elected to a third term last week. He gave a very moving speech during the dinner and I now realize that what he said to me echoed its theme. He is not at all daunted by the challenges that lie ahead in the battle for equal rights because he’s been through many battles before.

“I think it feels like a more important time to be gay or lesbian today because there’s so much going on on so many fronts,” he said. “We challenged the government, we challenged the military, we challenged the churches, we challenged the institution of marriage. I mean, you talk about a romantic period of time to be alive – to be openly gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender. These are historic times. We’ve suffered many defeats. The thousands of men we lost during the AIDS epidemic was a huge defeat. Challenges to the military a huge defeat. But after every defeat, there’s often a victory and a win. It’s just staying the course, staying the course.  I think if you look at it as sort of an era of one’s life in a lifespan of work.”

T.R. Knight made an appearance on the line to pose for photos but told me, with a smile, no interviews tonight. “It’s good to see you though,” he said politely. I remarked: “You don’t want to deal with all those Grey’s Anatomy questions, huh? “(He and co-star and friend Katherine Heigl reportedly want off the hit ABC series). He smiled and said: “I’m just here supporting HRC tonight.”


Okay, so no TR. Then I learned that Dustin Lance Black was not going to do the arrivals line either so I dashed over to the pre-show reception and silent auction for that glass of wine. One of the first people I saw was my pal Jim Key who had just gotten back from a vacation to Australia! Jim is the director of communications for the LA Gay and Lesbian Center and a wonderful friend. I also bumped into my friends Ted Johnson and Stewart Scott who were going to be at the same table as me. We had been invited by PR whiz David Beckwith (that’s David, Ted and I pictured above) whose clients include the Elvis Presley Graceland Estate and Wolfgang Puck‘s restaurants.

Ted, who I have known for 20 years, was laughing during dinner because I had one glass of wine and he could tell I was already a little wacky. It really doesn’t take much. I was busy trying to flirt with our beautiful waiter, a Christian Bale look-alike named Peter Gonzalez.  I found out that he’s 33 years old and – drat for me – he’s got a wife and children. He was a superb waiter all the same.

On a miore serious note: I’m told Dustin Lance Black, the Oscar-winning screenwriter of Milk, met Sen. Feinstein for the first time and they spoke privately for several minutes. It was Feinstein, then president of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, who found Harvey Milk’s body in a City Hall office more than 30 years ago and shortly after announced to the city that he and Mayor George Mascone had been shot and killed by former supervisor Dan White.

FILE UNDER: About Town


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One Remark

  1. March 16th, 2009 at 8:40 am
    HRC Gala was amazing says:

    Amazing event and great article Greg! It was both empowering and motivational to attend this event with such a group of caring and talent people.

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