March 31, 2017

On Monday March 27th, PFLAG National celebrated the Ninth Annual Straight for Equality Awards at a gala event held, once again, at the New York Marriott Marquis. This year’s honors went to Emmy Award-winning actress Martha Plimpton, CNN political commentator Ana Navarro, and Alcoa.

Comedian Fortune Feimster hosted the event, and brought not only incredible humor to the stage, but also a personal PFLAG connection: Her mother, Ginger, is a chapter leader in North Carolina. With mom looking on--and even briefly joining her on stage--Fortune kept the evening moving at a fun and brisk pace. Fortune was also joined onstage by auctioneer Mark Schenfeld who--thanks to donations from Marriott International, American Airlines, and the Broadway shows KINKY BOOTS and DEAR EVAN HANSEN--raise nearly $75,000 for the newly established Cepek Ally Action Fund. To learn more about the fund and how you can contribute, read the article in this edition of the Voice.

Accepting the Straight for Equality in the Workplace honors on behalf of Alcoa was CEO Roy Harvey. He was presented the award by PFLAG National board member, and Business President of Energy and Water Solutions with The Dow Chemical Company, Larry Ryan.

Honoree Plimpton--an outspoken ally to LGBTQ people, as well as a champion of reproductive health rights for all people--spoke about her commitment to fight for the needs not just of cisgender women, but of all people, including people who are transgender, to access needed healthcare. Said Plimpton, “Cisgender women cannot ask for better allies than trans patients. We need you, and we need to be there for you.” She also shared, beautifully, the history of PFLAG and why it remains a crucial organization in the fight for rights. “This organization has been making a difference in the lives of people I know for as long as I can remember...PFLAG has been leading the charge. I thank this organization with everything I have, because to me, PFLAG exemplifies accountability. And accountability is extremely important when we talk about civil rights for all people, and civil rights for ourselves. If we don’t show up for others, who’s going to show up for us?”

CNN’s Don Lemon presented the Straight for Equality in Media honors to his close friend and colleague Ana Navarro, a Republican strategist who is a longtime LGBTQ ally. Ana was funny and fierce, saying, “When PFLAG contacted me about receiving this award, I was surprised. My immediate response was, ‘Who the hell needs to get an award in 2017 for being pro-LGBTQ rights?’ Isn’t that like giving a Neanderthal an award for starting to walk on two legs?’ Believing in equal rights for all humans regardless of gender, color, ethnicity, creed or sexual orientation, that should be an expectation… . But I am very proud to receive this award.” Navarro dedicated the award to her mentors and teachers, and to her LGBTQ friends, and shared her own strong feelings about why all people should be allies, “If you defend and embrace the Declaration of Independence,” said Navarro, “If you call yourself an American, you proport to believe that we’re all created equal and have an inalienable right to life, liberty, and happiness.”

In addition to the awards, the gala included a moving performance of the song “Not My Father’s Son,” by Broadway performer Eric LaJuan Summers, from the Tony Award-winning Best Musical KINKY BOOTS.

Enjoy images from this wonderful evening of celebrating allies--and supporting PFLAG--by visiting pflag.org/event/2017gala.

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