The Los Angeles LGBT Center honored Miley Cyrus, Jane Fonda and Ron Nyswaner for their contributions to the LGBT community at its 46th Annual Vanguard Awards Gala at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza in Los Angeles on Saturday night.
While the overall mood of the gala was a festive one, featuring live performances by Alex Newell and Linda Perry, the speeches by the honorees were heartfelt reminders of the hard work that has been put in by members of the community to achieve the many leaps forward in LGBT rights.
Fonda, introduced by her “Grace and Frankie” co-star Lily Tomlin, spoke with her familiar fiery passion about the similarities between her lifelong work for women’s rights and the struggles of the LGBT community for equal rights.
“None of us can rest on our victory laurels,” Fonda said. “We have to pay vigilant attention to each other’s movements and struggles. We have to learn from each other’s mistakes as well as victories. We have to support each other. We have the same opponents. We’re in this together. And one thing that we can all do is to support the passage of an equal rights amendment the will ban discrimination based on gender, sexual preference and sexual identity once and for all.”
Nyswaner, who wrote “Philadephia” and “Freeheld,” was introduced by his longtime friend Frances McDormand to accept the Rand Schrader Distinguished Achievement Award. Nyswaner talked at length about the inspiration he got from the other honorees as well as his own experience taking the hardships he experienced as an openly gay man and channeling them into his art.
“That’s what LGBT people have done for years. We’ve turned shame into art. We’ve turned fear into love,” Nyswaner said. “In the 1970s we were outlaws, and, by the way, it was exhilarating. As outlaws we created a powerful political movement. In the 1980s we were pariahs and we permanently change medical care research for the better. Not just for people with AIDS but for everyone. We are remarkable people. We take pain and victimization and from them become triumphant trailblazers.”
Finally, Cyrus stole the show at the end of the program. First she came onstage on the invitation of Perry and licked the piano that Perry had just finished performing “Hands of Love” on. The piano was then auctioned and, perhaps thanks to Cyrus’ contribution, the piano went for $50,000.
Cyrus spoke about her work with LGBT homeless youths.
“There are more than 1.6 million runaway or homeless young people in the U.S. each year with 40 percent of homeless youth identifying as LGBTQ,” Cyrus said. “And in just Hollywood where we are all sitting royally with all of our food in front of us and all of these fancy-a– clothes … there are more than 6,100 homeless people under the age of 24 on the streets on any given day and more than one in four of these people have experienced hate crimes due to their race, sexual orientation or their gender identity.”