GLAAD honors social justice activists
By: Greg Archer
Special to The Examiner
May 30, 2010
The gala, which honors LGBT advocates and spotlights the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamationâ€™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 â€œPreciousâ€ director Lee Daniels, actress and civil rights activist Cybill Shepherd and The Cityâ€™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 companyâ€™s involvement as a leader in the Business Council for the â€œNo on Prop. 8â€ campaign and other notables.
â€œIâ€™m very humbled by the honor,â€ he says. â€œGLAAD promotes the idea that we must show up every day with authenticity, vocally confronting oppression or misrepresentation with the simple truth about our community.â€
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 â€” the country singer â€” who told The Examiner that sheâ€™s surprisingly â€œat peaceâ€ standing in the middle of a media hurricane sparked by her memoir, â€œLike Me,â€ in which she wrote about coming out.
Meanwhile, Daniels receives GLAADâ€™s Davidson/Valentini Award, presented to an openly LGBT media professional championing equal rights through their work â€” â€œPreciousâ€ star Gabourey Sidibe is presenting it â€” and Shepherd gets the Golden Gate Award.
â€œEverything starts at home,â€ Shepherd notes of opening hearts and minds to LGBT culture and causes. â€œOur children arenâ€™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.â€
Hanson is even more candid about GLAADâ€™s ripple effects.
â€œThe only thing we can choose in life is how we show up each day,â€ he says. â€œBeing 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.â€
IF YOU GO
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