—by Dr. Laura Wilhelm, LauraWil Intercultural and Valerie Milano
Los Angeles, CA (The Hollywood Times) 9/27/16 – On the evening of Saturday, September 24th, 2016 the Los Angeles LGBT Center hosted the 47th Anniversary Gala Vanguard Awards at the Pacific Design Center Plaza located at 8687 Melrose Avenue in the heart of West Hollywood. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and City Council Members Mitch O’Farrell and David Ryu topped off a dazzling Hollywood guest list.
New presenting sponsor HBO donated the HBO Party Pavilion built atop the PDC fountain for the event. Red carpet arrivals began at 7:15 p.m. followed by the awards show and an after-party with dancing.
LGBT celebrity couple Lance Bass (FINDING PRINCE CHARMING) and husband Michael Turchin flashed killer smiles for the crowd of photographers. So did current FPC suitors Eric Leonardos and Paul Hollowell and notorious porn actress Traci Lords.
Two-time Emmy winner Julie Bowen presented the Vanguard Award to Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Justin Mikita. Ferguson stars with Bowen in the award-winning ABC comedy MODERN FAMILY with five Emmy Award and four People’s Choice Award nominations to his credit. Ferguson described Bowen as “the best TV sister I could ever hope for” when he accepted the award.
Mikita is co-founder and partner of Hawkins Mikita, a social impact firm working to develop the intersection of celebrity influence and social good. He currently sits on the Board of Directors for the Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest LGBT rights organization. He holds a BA from UCLA and a JD from Southwestern Law School in Los Angeles.
In 2012 husbands Ferguson and Mikita co-founded the nonprofit Tie The Knot that creates limited edition bow ties with celebrity guest designers. All proceeds are donated to various organizations that fight for LGBT rights all over the world.
LGBT Olympic diving icon Greg Louganis presented the Rand Schrader Distinguished Achievement Award to Amini Fonua. Fonua is a two-time Olympic swimmer from Tonga. He was one of 11 openly gay males competing in Rio.
Brian Justin Crum (AMERICA’S GOT TALENT) and Debby Holiday performed songs and Kathy Najimy and Mo Gaffney made a special guest appearance. Their funny, feminist Kathy and Mo Show has been seen all around the country and was featured on two HBO specials.
The Center’s CEO Lorri Jean got a huge laugh from the crowd when she introduced herself as “Mrs. Angelina Jolie.” Her real life wife was sick at home!
Highlighted at the event were a raffle and both live and silent auctions. All featured the usual assortment of Marilyn Monroe and other celebrity memorabilia and luxury travel packages to exotic locales such as Stockholm and Paris. Chef Wolfgang Puck provided the delicious appetizers, dinner, and dessert.
The September 24th gala was part of a three-day extravaganza. It was preceded by a launch party at Hamilton-Selway Fine Art Gallery on September 23rd and a brunch at The Abbey on September 25th.
Since 1969 the Los Angeles LGBT Center has cared for, championed, and celebrated families in Los Angeles and beyond. Today its nearly 600 employees serve more LGBT individuals than any other organization in the world.
The Center’s services span four broad categories: Health, Social Services and Housing, Education and Culture, and Leadership and Advocacy. They are an unstoppable force in the fight against bigotry and the struggle to build a better world; a world in which LGBT people can be healthy, equal and complete members of society. Learn more at www.lalgbtcenter.org
The Los Angeles LGBT Center’s Anniversary Gala is their premier annual celebration attended by more than 1200 of the region’s most important leaders in the civic, corporate, entertainment, and philanthropic communities. Past honorees have included the late Senator Edward Kennedy, Sir Elton John, Neil Patrick Harris, Lily Tomlin, and Jane Fonda. Past presenters have included Elizabeth Taylor, Tipper Gore, Nathan Lane, Shirley MacLaine, and a host of other leading figures.