PFLAG National held its fifth annual Straight for Equality Awards Gala at the New York Marriott Marquis. Straight for Equality – a nationwide outreach and education project created by PFLAG National – educates and empowers straight allies to advocate for and support lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people.
This year’s honors went to Sir Patrick Stewart (X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST; STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION; MATCH), award-winning author John Irving (THE WORLD ACCORDING TO GARP; IN ONE PERSON), NFL players Brendon Ayanbadejo and Chris Kluwe, and Whirlpool Corporation
Lizz Winstead (Co-Creator, THE DAILY SHOW) hosted the evening, and was joined on stage by actress/singer Eden Espinosa (WICKED), who provided the evening’s entertainment. Others appearing on stage included actor John Benjamin Hickey (THE BIG C; THE NORMAL HEART), multi-award winner Joel Grey (CABARET; WICKED), and former NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue.
Tagliabue—the first former high-ranking official of the NFL to speak out on LGBT equality and acceptance—spoke not only of his personal connection to the cause of LGBT equality, as a longtime PFLAG member and the father of a gay son, but as an advocate for LGBT equality in sports. Ayanbadejo and Kluwe reaffirmed the critical need for allies in professional sports as they accepted their awards from Tagliabue.
Honoree John Irving echoed Tagliabue’s simultaneous personal and professional support for LGBT equality –after writing about a number of LGBT characters in many of his novels over the years, his own son came out.
Sir Patrick Stewart not only graciously accepted his Straight for Equality in Entertainment Award, but asked award presenter—and longtime close friend—Joel Grey to serve as best man at his upcoming wedding to singer Sunny Ozell. Sir Ian McKellen will officiate at the ceremony.
Aside from the awards, the evening also included smart and hilarious commentary by Winstead, a moving musical performance by Espinosa, whose album LOOK AROUND remains on the charts on iTunes, and a lively auction featuring items donated by Marriott, Whirlpool and American Airlines.
Also announced at the event was PFLAG National’s partnership with The Ally Coalition (TAC), an organization founded by the band FUN. and designer Rachel Antonoff. Much like PFLAG’s own threefold mission of support, education, and advocacy, TAC believes it is the responsibility of allies to support LGBTQ causes and speak out against discrimination through education, awareness and advocacy.