Broadway and TV Stars Talk LGBTQ Issues at Trevor Project Event

Getty Images/Courtesy of The Trevor Project

John Oliver hosted the dinner, concert and auction in New York City.

The Trevor Project, a nonprofit representing LGBTQ youth, received more calls last month than ever in its 19-year history, a stat just-appointed CEO and executive director Amit Paley attributes to anxieties roused by the Trump administration. On Wednesday in Times Square, Broadway stars Shoshana Bean (Hairspray), Taye Diggs (Rent), Gideon Glick (Spring Awakening) and Eli Tokash (Pippin), plus television actors Jackie Cruz (Orange Is The New Black) and Molly Bernard (Younger) united for the fundraiser TrevorLIVE: An Irreverent Evening of Comedy and Music. 

"This is not a time for anybody to be silent, or fade into the woodwork," Trevor Project founder Peggy Rajski told THR. "LGBTQ-plus rights are under attack … this seems as bad or worse than when we started."

A producer whose credits include Eight Men Out and The Grifters, Rajski directed the 16-minute film Trevor (1994), a look at a teen who attempts an overdose after his male classmate and crush casts him off as a "fairy." Trevor tied for the Oscar for best short subject, and before its HBO premiere a few years later, Rajski says she “woke up one night and went, 'Oh, my God, all these kids are going to be watching this show, and I think it’s going to be a lot of kids like Trevor, so where are they going to turn?'”

An adaptation of Trevor comes this August with the world premiere of Trevor: The Musical at the Writers Theater in Glencoe, Illinois. Beautiful: The Carole King Musical director Marc Bruni will helm the project, a reunion of recent Southern Comfort scribes Julianne Wick Davis and Dan Collins.

Following a dinner, the event’s host, John Oliver, took the stage for a light monologue. “I’ve lived in America for 11 years. It’s my home, I love it here,” he said. “I’m aware that it is a weird time … falling in love with America now is like falling in love with a girl who is throwing up all over herself," he joked. 

Oliver concluded by delivering a message for those who “prefer [closeted] people to remain in the shadows”: “F— that noise.” 

Oliver also revealed that immediately following Trump’s presidential victory speech, the comedian and host “watched five back-to-back episodes of RuPaul’s Drag Race,” a show starring “the America I wanted to live in.”

Earlier, on the red carpet, Tony-winner BD Wong shared that his household has also found post-election solace in TV: “Our night is dominated by Rachel Maddow at nine o’clock, and that’s just our only way of coping.”

Before and after accepting her award, Edie Windsor — the now 88-year-old plaintiff in the Supreme Court case that, in 2013, overturned the Defense of Marriage Act — received standing ovations. “There is no gay marriage in this country,” she proclaimed. “There is only marriage.”

Denis O’Hare — both a two-time Tony-winner and Emmy nominee — was similarly triumphant when speaking to THR: "I’ve been alive 55 years on this planet. I have lived through the AIDS epidemic. I have watched things get better, I’ve watched it get worse. I’m a married gay man with a child. I have a family. That’s incredible progress. That’s amazing." 

Additional statuettes were presented to Deloitte and Dan Reynolds, the lead singer of Imagine Dragons (the event’s West Coast counterpart will honor Kristin Chenoweth this December).

In his speech, Reynolds — who was raised Mormon — detailed first how his acceptance to Brigham Young University was revoked when a bishop notified the school that he’d been sexually active, then the guilt he felt as a missionary espousing the sinfulness of homosexuality. “Any God that I want to be a part of believes [being gay] is beautiful, perfect, wonderful,” he said, echoing a lesson he learned from his wife and announcing Love Loud, a music festival Imagine Dragons will headline in BYU-residing Provo, Utah on Aug. 26 to benefit The Trevor Project and GLAAD. 

A final musical flourish came from a chorus performing “You Will Be Found” from Dear Evan Hansen, which claimed six Tonys earlier this month, among them best musical. 

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