Perhaps only at the Equality Awards would one have the opportunity to see trans pop star Kim Petras, political commentator Ana Navarro and the first Chinese-American woman elected to the U.S. Congress, Judy Chu. It happened at the 20th anniversary of Equality California’s Los Angeles event, and this proved to be the one award ceremony where politicians vastly outnumbered celebrities.
“I’m coming fresh from our announcement that we’re going to go for impeachment,” Chu told Variety at the event held on Saturday night at the J.W. Marriott in downtown Los Angeles. “Equality California has done major work in being able to gain equal rights for LGBT folks — they worked to get the very first same sex marriage bill passed in the nation, and I was a part of that effort.”
But Chu knows this is no time to focus on past victories. “We have a president who is trying to take back everything,” she said. “How about him saying that it’s okay for a contractor to fire somebody who’s LGBT? It’s more important than ever to stand up for equality and justice — the more we work, we’ll be able to restore this country to what it was.”
Since this is L.A., Mayor Eric Garcetti can be forgiven for name-dropping on the carpet: “Jill Soloway is a dear friend,” he said of the evening’s Equality Visibility Award honoree.
“I’m here to celebrate 20 years that went by in the blink of an eye — but that blink was game-changing for California and for America if not the world,” he told Variety. “My cousin was one of the first gay Latino men to die of AIDS in Los Angeles — the LGBTQ community’s struggles are my struggles.”
The Ally Leadership Award went to Navarro, who also wasn’t afraid to name-drop dishing to Variety about getting ready for the event. “I said to Gloria [Estefan]: ‘Do you think I should wear these shoes?'” she recounted. “And she said: ‘Are you going like that? You don’t have hair and makeup? Really, you’re going to a gay event?’”
Navarro was honored for (among other things) vigorously defending the LGBTQ community against conservative pundits on countless CNN appearances.
“I thought we’d gotten to the point where it was embarrassing to be a bigot,” she said. “People used to try to hide it, right? But in the last few years, bigots have come out of the closet.”
On stage, Navarro projected an image of Sean Spicer in costume from “Dancing with the Stars.” “Such a nice way for ABC to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month: Sean Spicer as a florescent parakeet dancing salsa,” Navarro deadpanned. “That’s a damn sacrilege.”
“Transparent” star Alexandra Billings introduced series creator Soloway.
“As honored as I am to be here, I’m always amazed when I’m asked to speak as a leader in the queer community,” Soloway said while accepting their award. “To be honest, I have only been queer for about six years, and only identified as non-binary for three years. So I’m a total baby queer here and I feel that sense of imposter syndrome all the time.”
Known for their comedic chops, Soloway couldn’t help aiming for a few laughs, like when sharing their obsession with the video sharing app TikTok and singing the praises of “wonderful young TikTokers complaining about their non-binary dysphoria.”
Throwing in a few more jokes into an acceptance speech that more resembled a mini-standup comedy routine, they added, “I just want to remind you all: Heterosexuality is really scary…Think about it: Two high school students. One can of beer and the wrong Adele song away from making a human being. It’s disgusting.”
Ending on a serious note, Soloway wished for “a dream of a world where trans people and queer people can feel safe and just at home in our skin. The queer,” they promised, “shall inherit the earth.”