During a weekend when the presidential campaign was caught up in violence and anger, showbiz luminaries came together to celebrate love and gratitude at the Family Equality Council’s Impact Awards on Saturday.
The Family Equality Council advocates for LGBTQ parents and families, and the Impact Awards honor those who have made a significant contribution to that community. The org says the banquet at the Beverly Hilton, which is both a presentation and a fundraiser, “offers a moment to call attention to the organization’s ongoing work to achieve full legal and lived equality for these nine million Americans.”
Honorees included writer-producer Greg Berlanti, who is overseeing comic-book TV adaptations “Arrow,” “The Flash” and “Supergirl,” and who recently became a parent through surrogacy; and singer-songwriter Linda Perry and actress-producer Sara Gilbert, who are raising a family of their own.
Other notables at the event included thesp Beau Bridges, Olympic champion Greg Louganis and actor-reality TV star Alec Mapa, whose own adventures in parenthood were the subject of the show “Alec Mapa: Baby Daddy.”
Gay rights, marriage equality and adoption rights have been a wedge issue over several election cycles, but seem to have mostly faded from the presidential primary debates.
“I think it’s a wonderful example for people, in terms of just the progress that was made as quickly as it was,” Berlanti told Variety before the ceremony, when asked about the relative quiet on the subject of LGBTQ rights. “But I also feel like it’s easy to drop the ball then. There’s still a lot of ways to go for all sorts of different groups and people. So I think it’s inspirational, the progress, but I think there’s also more work to be done.”
On the same subject, Gilbert said, “People know they’re not going to win votes by opposing this. And that’s great because it means the whole consciousness of the country has shifted.” Perry compared the acceptance of LGBTQ rights with the “overnight success” of an musician who’s worked long and hard. “It didn’t happen overnight. Yes, it quickly happened, but there’s been so many years, so many people, so much pain behind this. And it’s just so nice to be in the world that we should be in now. And it’s getting there. So many things we still need to accomplish, but the fact we have a black president, a woman running for president, we have gay people running all over the place, getting married. We’ve come a long way. Humans have. Life has.”
At the podium, all three honorees were emotional as they accepted their awards, especially Berlanti, who recalled that when he came out to his parents at 23, his father told him: “You’ll never have a child.”
Berlanti recounted, “I answered back, ‘If you mean I won’t have a wife to have a child with, you’re right. But if you mean I won’t raise a child, and love that child as much as you love me, then you’re wrong, Dad.'” He added later that “You’ll never get to see the moment I watched my mother and father stare into my son’s eyes for the first time. ‘He looks like me, doesn’t he?’ my Dad said assuredly. Or how much joy I felt when I received this text from my father the next day: ‘Caleb is the luckiest boy in the world to have you as a Dad.'”