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Rita Moreno, Laverne Cox Celebrate Outfest, Talk the Weinstein Co.’s Withdrawal From Benefit

Laverne Cox and Rita Moreno were both honored at the Outfest Legacy Awards in downtown Los Angeles Sunday night. Held at Vibiana, the awards helped highlight the two figures’ major contributions to the LGBT community in film and television.

The awards were in the news a couple of weeks ago when the third scheduled honoree, the Weinstein Company, withdrew itself from the ceremony following the massive controversy that broke out surrounding its former chairman Harvey Weinstein. Comedienne Dana Goldberg, who hosted the event, said that there were concerns that the company’s involvement would overshadow the event’s cause. She commended the company for its decision.

“I think that having them withdraw was such a valiant thing to do knowing that it was just going to cast a shadow on such an incredible event,” Goldberg said. “I think it was a very conscious effort to realize that even though the company itself is not at fault for one person’s behavior that they knew that if they stayed in that it was going to detract from the event, so I actually commend the Weinstein Company for pulling out and doing what they needed to do.”

The org provided the full statement on social media ahead of the ceremony.

Moreno, who was being given the James Schamus Ally Award for her many years as an ally and icon for those who identify as LGBT, spoke candidly about TWC’s withdrawal. “How about that for irony? I have a feeling he has a date with Bill Cosby,” she quipped.

“It’s about time this is out in the open,” Moreno stated. “There are so many of those predators on the prowl and some of them are very talented people, and that’s the heartbreaking part of it — like Mr. Weinstein.”

The Legacy Awards, which started 12 years ago, honors major figures in the LGBT community as well as raises funds for Outfest’s UCLA Legacy Project. The org helps to preserve and restore important LGBT films. Cox, who was introduced by friend Elizabeth Banks, explained what she saw was needed to continue effecting change in Hollywood’s portrayal of trans stories.

“When I think about so much of what’s going on with trans folks in this country, all this demonizing and criminalizing of trans folks around bathrooms and the military, et cetera, a lot of that demonization is happening because misinformation is being spread about us and being perpetuated,” she said. “So us telling our stories that reflect the realities of our life is crucial to our liberation and our struggle, and what Outfest does is crucial.”

The actress went on, “We need more trans folks specifically directing, writing, producing at every level of production. We need more trans people cast to play trans characters. We need more trans people cast to play non-trans characters and more of our stories told in ways that reflect the realities of our lives and that means trans people at every aspect of production.”

Guests were treated to a full course dinner while the presentations were being held, and Our Lady J performed. An auction was also held, which ended up surpassing the organization’s goal of raising $25,000.

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