The Advocate celebrates 45 years of publishing with star-studded soiree at the Beverly Hilton Hotel
The Advocate turns 45 this year and the magazine pulled out all the stops on Thursday night with a party at the Beverly Hilton Hotel.
It was a star-studded affair with Macy Gray performing, Ross Mathews hosting and such guests as Dustin Lance Black, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, David Burtka, Sean Maher, Bruce Vilanch, Mark Deklin, Rex Lee, Perez Hilton, Betty DeGeneres, Gloria Allred, Michelle Clunie, Gregg Araki, Billy Bean, Coco Peru, and Camille Grammer, among others.
The Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles kicked things off with a performance of Katy Perry’s Firework and there were a series of video tributes from the likes of Ellen DeGeneres, Ricky Martin, Sean Hayes and Judith Light.
“Congratulations to you for all that you do,” DeGeneres said from the set of her daytime talk show. “I’m always in awe of all that you do and continue to do.”
Larry Kramer, the famed playwright and activist, noted in his tribute that it is also the 25th anniversary of ACT UP (AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power), a group of individuals united in anger and committed to direct action to end the AIDS crisis.
“We musn’t forget those years,” an emotional Kramer said of the height of the AIDS crisis.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein told the crowd in her piece that she is committed to ending the Defense of Marriage Act: “Once I start something, I don’t quit.”
Unfortunately, the party was in full bloom when the video tributes were played so they didn’t have the impact they could have had. The same goes for some of the presentations as LA City Councilman Paul Koretz, HERE Media CEO Paul Colichman, Advocate editor Matthew Breen and Point Foundation Executive Director Jorge Garcia made their remarks amid a loud din of guests well into their second and third drinks.
But Colichman got some strong crowd reaction when he listed some of the homophobic forces still taking aim at the LGBT including the National Organization for Marriage, the Family Research Council and Republican presidential hopeful Rick Santorum. All were booed by the crowd with Santorum’s name getting the loudest chorus of boos.
Host Ross Mathews, his distinctive voice loud and clear so it could be heard above the noise, remained spirited and funny throughout the evening.
Of The Advocate turning 45 Mathews said: “The Advocate is officially a hot daddy!”
He wondered if the magazine was going to embark on a mid-life crisis by driving a Miata and dating “a twink.”
Mathews was also aggressive in his drumming up support for The Point Foundation which grants scholarships to LGBT students of merit getting guests to take out their phones and text a pledge to this very worthy organization. The goal was to raise $25,ooo on Thursday night.
Before the festivities began, I talked to Matthew Breen a little bit about the history of the magazine he now edits.
“It was founded in 1967 after the raids of The Black Cat Bar in Silverlake,” Breen said. “For 45 years, we’ve been reporting on every aspect of LGBT life – politics, arts and entertainment, advances in rights. So it’s a really fantastic night for us to celebrate that rich history.”
He added: “I think it’s still the biggest brand name in gay media. It’s a household name even for people who aren’t LGBT – a lot of people are just familiar with the legacy of The Advocate. We’re still, I think, the publication of record for the LGBT community.”
I chatted with several of the celebrities on the red carpet about The Advocate turning 45.
Dustin Lance Black: “I read it a lot when I was doing all the research for Milk and Pedro. The very, very old issues that were mostly like personal ads – gay guys looking for gay guys at a time when that was very taboo. You could really watch the gay and lesbian movement turn into the LGBT movement, mature, become more inclusive, include more and more radical ideas, more progressive ideas as you watch The Advocate. It’s been amazing to watch it go from … kind of just for gay men, to what it is now. It has a website and reaches out to the trans community, the bisexual community, the QIA community for the young people. They’re keeping up. It’s important.
Jason Stuart: “When I was growing up, it was my Bible. It was the only place we could go for art, culture, politics and cute boys. It was the first thing that we saw that made us feel like we existed. I still have a subscription – I think it’s important.”
Ross Mathews: “The Advocate’s amazing. They’ve been telling gay stories for 45 years. When you think about how the world was different 20 years ago when I was a kid. I didn’t know what it meant to be a grow-up, happy, gay successful person because it wasn’t represented in the mainstream media. Then you think about what it was like 45 years ago and here comes The Advocate telling those stories, trailblazing. I think it’s incredible what they have been doing.”
Sean Maher: “What an amazing, amazing celebration. To be celebrating something that has been around since before Stonewall. Forty-five years fighting this fight is extraordinary. The name for the magazine kind of speaks for itself.”
Perez Hilton: “It means a lot to every gay person. There aren’t that many gay publications anymore and this one was the first. It’s been around 45 years, there’s so much history there and there’s a real opportunity for the magazine to continue to not just entertain and inform, but also create change.”
Michelle Clunie: “What’s not to love about The Advocate. They started out as this magazine, a newsletter really, where you could go and find out what bars are being raided and what’s happening in the LGBT community underground. And then it became this amazing magazine that’s one of the best, I think.”
Coco Peru: “I still read it and every once in awhile I make it in there. They’ve been kind to me over the years.”
Billy Bean (two-time cover subject): “It’s amazing how many people keep the covers and send them to you to have them signed and sent back. They were so much fun, to be treated like someone very special for a day or two. It was just a memorable experience each time. I’m proud of them. I just love the magazine and I think they still deliver.”
Below are some more photos from the party: 1) The Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles performing. 2) Me with former major leaguer Billy Bean. 3) Suburgatory star Rex Lee. 4) Betty DeGeneres (Ellen’s mom!) 5) David Burtka on the red carpet. 6) Queer as Folk alum Michelle Clunie. 7) Me with attorney Gloria Allred.