Reminder: GLAAD honors social justice activists; Bruce hosts 6/5

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GLAAD honors social justice activists
By: Greg Archer
Special to The Examiner
May 30, 2010

SAN FRANCISCO — The City isn’t shy when it comes to honoring civil rights leaders, but the 21st annual GLAAD Media Awards may surpass expectations.

The gala, which honors LGBT advocates and spotlights the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation’s mission to promote fair and inclusive stories of LGBT issues, is Saturday at the San Francisco Marriott Marquis.

This year, it has special star power with honors going to “Precious” director Lee Daniels, actress and civil rights activist Cybill Shepherd and The City’s own Robert Hanson, president of Levi Strauss Americas, who receives the San Francisco Local Hero Award.

Hanson, a tireless advocate for social justice, LGBT rights and marriage equality, championed the company’s involvement as a leader in the Business Council for the “No on Prop. 8” campaign and other notables.

“I’m very humbled by the honor,” he says. “GLAAD promotes the idea that we must show up every day with authenticity, vocally confronting oppression or misrepresentation with the simple truth about our community.”

Nikki Blonsky, Wilson Cruz, Jai Rodriguez, Clementine Ford and Jan Wahl are also slated to appear.

Comedy titan Bruce Vilanch hosts, and live entertainment arrives in the form of Sam Sparro and Chely Wright — the country singer — who told The Examiner that she’s surprisingly “at peace” standing in the middle of a media hurricane sparked by her memoir, “Like Me,” in which she wrote about coming out.

Meanwhile, Daniels receives GLAAD’s Davidson/Valentini Award, presented to an openly LGBT media professional championing equal rights through their work — “Precious” star Gabourey Sidibe is presenting it — and Shepherd gets the Golden Gate Award.

“Everything starts at home,” Shepherd notes of opening hearts and minds to LGBT culture and causes. “Our children aren’t sponges to soak up hate. We have such a huge responsibility as parents to fill those sponges with love and teach lessons that really kill prejudice off in ourselves.”

Hanson is even more candid about GLAAD’s ripple effects.

“The only thing we can choose in life is how we show up each day,” he says. “Being gay is authentically one part of who I am. If I were to show up vaguely or closeted, I would be suppressing part of who I am; this would make it difficult to leverage all of my potential. In the end, I hope my being present and, when required, vocal, not only unleashes my full potential but helps pave the pathway for others.”


GLAAD Media Awards

Where: San Francisco Marriott Marquis, 55 Fourth St., San Francisco
When: 4:30 p.m. (reception); 6:30 p.m. (dinner); 8 p.m. (awards) Saturday
Tickets: $350

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