Andy Cohen opened the Elton John AIDS Foundation’s 15th annual An Enduring Vision gala, held at Cipriani Wall Street on Wednesday, with a quick rundown.
“Sir Elton is wearing bedazzled Gucci,” Cohen said. “The Cubs are winning 1 – 0. It’s the top of the second. I am so butch, I can’t even handle it.” And with less than a week until the 2016 presidential election, he added, “Nate Silver has Hillary Clinton at 68% of winning and Donald Trump at 32%.”
That, he said, was all the attendees needed to know about the world, and with that, the evening began. Set in a luxurious ballroom with 70-foot-high ceilings and an elaborately detailed dome, the evening theme featured colors of red and blue blended together in the mood lighting and popped in table cloths on which guest were served a beet and goat cheese salad on a bed of asparagus, creamy risotto, and beef with a porcini mushroom sauce and tiramisu for dessert (not to mention an assortment of libations, bubbly and otherwise).
Elton John who, indeed, looked fantastic in studded shoes and a jacket embroidered with his first name across the back, spoke about the event’s 15-year history. He started his remarks by asking, “Does any of this make a difference? Are we making progress against the AIDS epidemic?” (And later concluded “Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes.”)
Still, no event so close to a historic election could exist without at least some political reference.
“We have an enduring vision of a more compassionate world where no one is ever treated as ‘less than’ no matter their race, their sexuality, or their gender — a world where love trumps hate,” he said, then off-hand, “I know I’d get the word ‘trump’ in there somewhere.”
The black-tie event brought out the likes of actors Alan Cumming, Jeffrey Tambor, and Matthew Morrison, as well as TV host and author Padma Lakshmi.
Before the evening carried on with an auction and live musical performance, the event honored philanthropists Frank Giustra and Steve Tisch, as well as United Nations secretary-general Ban Ki-moon. The latter declared that he envisioned an AIDS-free world by 2030.
“We can get there,” he said, reflecting on his own relationship to LGBT activism.
“If my 20-year-old self could see me talking about these issues, he would have been very surprised,” he said. “But I am happy to say I found my voice. And every day more and more people are finding theirs.”