Thursday, May 6, 2010

Passport Magazine's Coverage of the Straight for Equality Gala. Plus, Liza Sings!

From Passport Magazine:

On Sunday night hundreds of well heeled, diverse members of the GLBT and community and their allies gathered at the Marriot Marquis in New York City for the Second Annual PFLAG Straight for Equality Gala. This year, Liza Minnelli was honored with the Straight for Equality in Entertainment Award, recognizing her decades of activism on behalf of the GLBT community.

The event, celebrating leaders in promoting GLBT equality, and especially recognizing the work of the community’s straight Allies, is one that PFLAG Executive Director Jody Huckaby says is critically important.

People and companies want to do the right thing,” Huckaby said. “With this event we’re helping to promote the tools and provide a place to recognize that work. People want to welcome GLBT community members, and that’s how all of this came to be.”

The gala recognized companies like American Airlines, AOL, Campbell’s, Johnson & Johnson, Kellogg’s, and the New York Stock Exchange, among others, as outstanding supporters of PFLAG and the GLBT community.

This year’s Straight for Equality in Business Award went to food provider Sodexo, which earned the number one rating for diversity and inclusion in a national survey, and which the Straight for Equality Gala recognized for creating a space for the voice of straight allies within the company and fostering a culture of inclusion for all employees.

“Supporting GLBT equality is everybody’s issue—a human issue,” said Dr. Rohini Anand, accepting the honor on behalf of Sodexo, nothing that it took eight years of hard to work to get Sodexo where it is today in GLBT inclusion, saying that in the end every year was worth it.

Caroline Rhea and “Amazing Race” winner Reichen Lehmkuhl hosted a spirited auction benefiting PFLAG, in which Rhea kicked off her shoes and ran around the room with a microphone, cajoling and teasing guests until more than $10,000 was raised for the PFLAG coffers.

This year the Straight for Equality in Sports Award was given out for the first time, bestowed upon New Orleans Saints NFL player Scott Fujita, an ally of the GLBT community. Fujita strongly supports same-sex marriage and, as an adopted child himself, also strongly supports adoption by same-sex couples.

“Love is love,” Fujita said plaintively, shrugging his shoulders. “It doesn’t get any simpler than that for me. And when it comes to this fight, I think, ‘Should I shut my mouth and just play football, or stand up and fight for something?’ I’d rather fight for something.”

The crown jewel of the evening’s entertainment was the presentation of the Straight for Equality in Entertainment Award, presented to Liza Minnelli, clad in a white sequin pant suit, and aided on stage by two gentlemen after a recent knee replacement.

“Be a call to action,” Minnelli urged the audience. “Find the everyday things people can do to help make this big, important change for equality. Be loud, like I am. Think to yourself, What Would Liza Do?” Once the laughter died down, Minnelli continued, “Use your place in life and talk to everyone about how discrimination is never okay. Equality means equality for everyone.”
In a seemingly ad libbed gesture, Minnelli sang a song A Capella, said to be track from her upcoming album “Confessions,” in a two-minute performance that left the audience silent, still, and seemingly a bit star-struck.

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