Barbra Streisand called for a boycott of the state of Colorado, in the wake of that state’s passage of Amendment 2, a measure that voids and prevents adoption of legislation that protects gays and lesbians from discrimination.
Streisand’s call-to-arms was sounded in her acceptance speech at Wednesday night’s Commitment to Life benefit for AIDS Project Los Angeles, at which she was honored.
The sold-out event raised $ 3.9 million for APLA and also recognized David Geffen and Mayor Tom Bradley for their efforts to fight AIDS and provide care to people living with the disease.
“There are plenty of us who love the mountains and rivers of that truly beautiful state (Colorado),” said Streisand. “But we must now say clearly that the moral climate there is no longer acceptable. And if we are asked to, we must refuse to play where they discriminate.”
Streisand’s impassioned endorsement was just what boycott organizers had been looking for, and could open the door to a widespread industry freeze-out of the state. Since the election, two groups have announced Colorado boycott campaigns in the entertainment industry: The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation – Los Angeles (GLAAD-LA) and Coloradans and Californians for Fairness in the Nation (COFFIN).
With bitter criticism for the Reagan and Bush administrations’ handling of the AIDS crisis, Streisand expressed hope that president-elect Clinton will put AIDS high on his agenda, quoting the Arkansan in saying, “‘AIDS policy can now be made based on sound scientific and public health principles, not on panic, politics and prejudice.’ ” Clinton sent a letter of congratulations to the CTL honorees, read Wednesday night, that also lauded APLA for its 10 years of service.
Geffen was honored for his personal and financial commitment to fighting AIDS; the record and film producer recently donated $ 1 million each to APLA and New York’s Gay Men’s Health Crisis.
In accepting his award, he acknowledged losing 341 friends and business associates to AIDS. He also emphatically came out to the 6,000 people assembled at the Universal Amphitheatre, saying, “As a gay man, I’ve come a long way to be here tonight. And in different places and by different paths, we’ve all come a long way, and yet there is an equally long way to go. If I have learned anything , I have learned this — that we must walk this path together.”
In an environment where it’s been difficult to be openly gay, few entertainment honchos have been as forthcoming about their sexual orientation. Geffen appeared pleased by the thunderous ovation he received upon his disclosure.
Presenting Geffen and Streisand’s awards was Warren Beatty. Other speakers included CTL co-chair Barry Diller, event hostess Shirley MacLaine and APLA’s board chairman Steve Tisch and CEO Leonard Bloom.
Bloom noted somberly that at least 160,000 Americans have died of AIDS, and it’s estimated that one in every 200 Californians is infected with HIV.
The CTL event was produced by Bernie Taupin, directed by Vincent Patterson and written by Bruce Vilanch. Line producer was Randy Johnson and associate producer was Harold Huttas.
Performers included Streisand, Liza Minnelli, Elton John, Patti Austin, Lyle Lovett, Johnny Mathis, Aaron Neville, Kenny Loggins, Wynonna Judd, Billy Joel, Clint Black, Patti LaBelle, Natalie Cole, Sheila E, Branford Marsalis, Russ Tamblyn and Eddie Van Halen.
Streisand’s electrifying performances of “Somewhere” and “One Hand, One Heart” (in duet with Johnny Mathis) predictably brought the audience to its feet. Other highlights included Elton John’s hilarious and liberating rendition of “I Feel Pretty,” Judd and Loggins’ collaboration on “Tonight” and “America” performed by Cole, LaBelle and Sheila E.
The 10-year-old APLA has 3,500 clients and provides case management and a wide range of services including housing, food, transportation, legal and insurance counselling. Non-profit org also is a leader in educational outreach and influencing public policy.