Equality California to Honor Kathy Griffin, 'Queer Eye' for LGBTQ Advocacy

Tara Ziemba/Getty; Photofest

The comic and the Fab Five are being praised for their inclusivity.

LGBTQ civil rights organization Equality California will honor comedian Kathy Griffin and the Netflix reality series Queer Eye on Sept. 29.

The revived powerhouses are being lauded at the Los Angeles Equality Awards along with Jewel's Catch One nightclub founder Jewel Thais-Williams. Taking place at the Marriott Hotel downtown, the gala will be hosted by comedian Dana Goldberg with performances by Brandon Stansell, DJ MASHA and Vanderpump Rules' Billie Lee.

At the event, Griffin will receive the Ally Leadership Award for her activism, including her campaign against Proposition 8, named the California Marriage Protection Act, which attempted to only allow marriage between a man and a woman. She worked to try to repeal the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" military policy and raised $5 million for HIV/AIDS prevention and queer civil rights organizations.

"The very notion of equality is at stake now like never before in my lifetime," says Griffin in a statement. "Yes, we've made progress, but this current administration is tearing at the fabric of equality as intensely as they are trying to tear us apart. As a long time ally, I'm honored to receive this award and to speak to the LGBTQIA (yep, I'm a proud 'A') community."

Griffin adds, "I look forward to continuing to being part of our work ahead of us and celebrating the progress we've made toward the day when equality is taken literally and not accepting separate but equal. As my very, very, very, very good friend Oprah says, 'a new day is on the horizon!' OK, I don't really know Oprah. Let's get to werq!"

Griffin has been outspoken about her opposition of President Donald Trump, facing backlash in 2017 after posting a picture of a fake decapitated Trump head. Her friends "abandoned" her after the controversy, she has said, venues canceled dates for her comedy tour and she received death threats from Trump supporters. The photo also sparked a federal investigation.

"I was hearing, 'Go away for five years,'" Griffin told The Hollywood Reporter in January. "I was like, 'I'll tell you what: You go away for five years.'" She decided to lay low and take her comedy show international, before making her U.S. comeback this summer with her Laugh Your Head Off World Tour (selling out in Radio City Music Hall and Carnegie Hall). On Tuesday, Griffin signed with APA across the board. 

The activist has previously been honored with the Human Rights Campaign's Ally for Equality Award, the GLAAD Vanguard Award, the Trevor Project's Trevor Life Award and the Rainbow Key Award from the city of West Hollywood.

"Throughout her career, Kathy Griffin has used her platform to speak truth to power and advocate for those whose voices have been silenced," says Equality California executive director Rick Zbur in a statement. "At such a pivotal moment in the fight for LGBTQ civil rights and social justice, it's hard to imagine a more deserving group of pro-equality champions."

Also being toasted by Equality California with the Equality Visibility Award is Netflix's reality reboot Queer Eye, for which the Fab Five group spruces up the wardrobes and lives of people from different backgrounds.

"Queer Eye has made us laugh — and cry — at a time when we needed it most, sharing our LGBTQ community's diversity and resilience with viewers around the world," Zbur says. The show was renewed for a third season in July.

Fab Five fashionista Tan France told THR in July, "I loved that it was going to be different from the original version of the show. I loved that we were going to be with people in different demographics, where it wasn't just liberals we were helping anymore. I wanted to be able to have open conversations with people who weren't like me, who had never met somebody like me, and to be able to effect change in their life, to open up a dialogue." 

France says there's a lot of pressure that comes with being the face of the inclusive movement. "I'm not the first Middle Eastern person on TV, I'm not the first British person on TV, I'm not the first gay person on TV, but encompassing all of those things and having it on such a large global format, there's a lot of pressure and I still feel it every day." 

Show creator David Collins says he appreciates the conversations with "people with different points of view and opinions," telling THR, "I feel humble every day to realize this little idea from 15 years ago is having a real impact right now."

Previous Equality California honorees include Sharon Stone, Conrad Ricamora and Adam Lambert.