Friday, April 15, 2011

GLAAD Media Awards in Los Angeles, CA

Immediately after workshop, I quickly left for JFK to fly to Los Angeles for the 2011GLAAD Media Awards. (Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) I had met some JetBlue representatives at the PFLAG NYC dinner in October and reconnected with them at the NLGJA event a few weeks ago. They so generously flew me to LA for this incredible opportunity. Arianna Afsar picked me up at the airport and we had an awesome weekend together at UCLA. I was so excited that she is someone who would want to go to the awards with me, for reasons beyond celeb sighting; she is an ally as well.  I really wanted to share this experience with Arianna to give the gay community in CA a new face to think about when they hear "Miss California" and "gay rights." She has been a supporter of equality but said she had never actually been to an event like this and called it "life-changing."

Miss California Arianna Afsar and Miss New York Claire Buffie at the 2011 LA GLAAD Media Awards
Our attendance made possible by dot429, was VIP to the max! We were wearing dresses by Rolando Santana. They escorted us to the VIP reception where we are surrounded by A-list celebs on the red carpet, we had a great conversation with Kirsten Dunst who LOVES Miss America and quickly grabbed her friend to tell her who we were AND passed Arianna's test of knowing the difference between USA and MAO! We met Kristen Chenoweth and congratulated her on her Vanguard Award - also a big fan "ohh I love me some Misses!" and thanked us for being there to show our support. At our table with AllState, the people to our right recognized Arianna from American Idol and to the left recognized us both off the bat from watching Miss A! "I look forward to two events every year: the GLAAD Awards and Miss America!" How fun?

(all shows are linked to acceptance speeches) The Media Awards honored Glee and Modern Family for Outstanding TV Comedy, Lawrence O'Donnell for TV Journalism segment featuring Joel Burns, and Project Runway for Outstanding Reality TV.  GLADD also had a big concentration on youth, sponsoring hundreds of kids to be there and highlighting real, young changemakers on stage. Also honored was a woman, Janice Langbehn, who started her story with "I think it's sad that the only reason I'm up here or people know who I am is because my wife is dead." wow. She continued on to tell us her story about her wife's accident and the hospital's mistreatment, disrespect and denying access to her AND their three kids, not allowing anyone to see their dying mother or wife to say goodbye. They had all the paperwork: living will, birth certificates with both mothers' names, power of attorney, etc. but they were all still denied. Her wife Lisa died. It wasn't the hospital who called to ever apologize though, it was President Barack Obama who called and said he was sorry and wanted to let her know personally that he was signing a memorandum which protects hospital visitation rights and medical decisions for same sex partners. (read more)  Dolly Parton was a surprise guest to honor Bob Greenblatt, Chairman of NBC Entertainment, with the Stephen F. Kolzak Award and Sean Hayes gave a hilarious yet emotional presentation to Kristen Chenoweth for the Vanguard Award

More from the LA GLAAD Media Awards Photo Page  |  Video Page

All in all, the Media Awards were just amazing.  I loved experiencing it myself and even more witnessing Arianna experience something like that for the firs time.  Plus, it was just a great weekend getaway and one of my favorite transitions is when pageant friends start talking about things besides pageants ... and we did that :)  While you're at it with the YouTube video watching, check out the UCLA ScatterTones, Arianna's a cappella group.

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