Latenight host gave gay teen a voice

When Constance McMillen, a high school senior from Mississippi, asked if she could bring her girlfriend to the prom, the Itawamba County Schools canceled the dance rather than honor her request.

Drew Barrymore has a long record of championing LGBT equality. Professionally and personally, the actress has embraced the gay and lesbian community both on and offscreen.

On March 13, McMillen, who successfully sued her alma mater, told her story on “The Wanda Sykes Show.” Sykes had no problem praising her young guest’s courage. “Especially in Mississippi,” the comedian pointed out, “which has been on the wrong side of everything.”

GLAAD president Jarrett Barrios, in turn, praises Sykes. “Wanda gave Constance McMillen a voice on her show,” says the prexy. “That was tremendously powerful because it puts Constance in the living rooms of every American. The show is an incredible pulpit from which to tell stories. And now Wanda has the microphone to tell those stories.”

Sykes asked McMillen to attend this year’s GLAAD Awards, and McMillen will be there to give Sykes the Stephen F. Kolzak Award, an honor bestowed upon LGBT media professionals who’ve made significant strides in promoting equal rights.

The Emmy Award-winning comic is the first openly gay African-American woman to host her own latenight talkshow. “The Wanda Sykes Show” debuted on Fox in November, and along with her HBO special “I’ma Be Me,” she stars in the CBS comedy “The New Adventures of Old Christine” and the PSA “Think Before You Speak,” which seeks to end the use of homophobic slang and epithets, like “That’s soooo gay,” in schools.

Sykes has said that her decision to “come out” was a reaction to the passing of California’s Prop. 8.

“I felt like I was being attacked, personally attacked — our community was attacked,” she said at the time. “Now, I gotta get in their face. I’m proud to be a woman. I’m proud to be a black woman, and I’m proud to be gay.”

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