Equality California, the nation’s largest statewide LGBTQ civil rights organization, on Saturday evening hosted the 2018 Los Angeles Equality Awards at the J.W. Marriott Hotel in downtown Los Angeles.
The Equality Awards honor the inspirational leaders and organizations who work toward ensuring equality for people in the LGBTQ community. With the Equality Awards just two days after Thursday’s Senate hearings, Judge Brett Kavanaugh was definitely a hot-button topic among the stars and honorees in attendance.
Presenter Lance Bass awarded Kathy Griffin with the Ally Leadership Award for her decades of activism in the fight for LGBTQ equality. The outspoken comedian, who was welcomed with a standing ovation from the room of over 1,200 attendees, gave a passionate speech encouraging people to vote in the upcoming midterm elections.
Griffin expressed her gratitude to The Hollywood Reporter on being honored. “I feel incredibly honored because it’s obviously been a difficult year, almost year and a half,” she said. “The LGBT community stuck with me through thick and thin. And when you learn who your friends are, you really learn who your friends are.”
Griffin also shared her fears on the Trump administration’s actions in rolling back rights to the LGBT community: “The timing couldn’t be better because with everything going on in this administration but in particular, it gives me the opportunity to talk to the community tonight and say it’s easy to get distracted by Trump and all his foolishness, but Jeff Sessions is busily rolling back the rights for LGBT folks, for women, for people of color, for marginalized people everywhere. And they’re not playing around. They’re actually doing it. Everything from kids in cages to the fact that if Kavanaugh gets on the [Supreme Court] — goodbye to the legalization of gay marriage.”
When speaking of Kavanaugh, Griffin did not mince words when she shared her thoughts on the Supreme Court nominee who has been accused of sexual assault (he has denied the allegations). “It’s so shocking to me that we are going so far backwards and that that is the joy of the MAGA crowd, and yet I really think that every woman who watched that testimony, if she was honest with herself, looked at him with the bloated, red drunken face, looked like he had the shakes. The wife is sitting there rolling her eyes like, ‘Oh, he’s popping off again,'” she quipped. “The idea that he’d even be considered for the Supreme Court, it really makes me feel that we’re in The Upside Down in Stranger Things.”
Griffin also wasn’t incredibly pleased with Arizona Republican Sen. Jeff Flake’s call for an FBI investigation into the allegations made against Kavanaugh, “He’s on a time out. He’s on probation and he knows it. Look, It’s a real easy ploy to do, and he really does this more than anyone, is to take this week, and he made a statement this morning saying if the FBI finds something, I’m a yes. Dude, it doesn’t matter what the FBI finds. Look at his testimony. He’s unhinged… and he lied five times,” she went on.
“Yes, it’s good that Flake, [Alaska Sen. Lisa] Murkowski, [West Virginia Sen. Joe] Manchin and [Maine Sen. Sue] Collins took the week but they shouldn’t have even had to take the week. Yes, I will congratulate them all if they stick to their guns and when it goes to a floor vote or if he withdraws or if Trump even finally says. ‘I’m gonna save us all the shame and we’re not gonna vote.’ Then we’ll get to have a break. But until they do it, I don’t trust them.” Even if the FBI finds Kavanaugh not guilt of the allegations, Griffin told THR that she would still be vehemently opposed to his nomination: “Of course. Honey, if there was no investigation, he’s such an idiot. … He’s a horrible man.”
Another honoree of the night was Netflix’s Emmy Award-winning Queer Eye, which received the Equality Visibility Award, accepted by castmember Karamo Brown.
Brown shared with THR how he felt being lauded by Equality California. “The show is being recognized for the impact we have in bringing diversity to the mainstream and sort of pushing the needle forward when it comes to helping people understand that having a political conversation is something that should not divide us. It is something that should bring us together,” he said. “We all have different skill sets — from Jonathan [Van Ness] being a hairdresser for 12 years to me being a therapist for 12 years — we’re just living our lives and trying to help people with the best way we know how and to say to someone, ‘Yes, we acknowledge you for being great just for being who you are.’”
Brown, like Griffin, was also not hesitant in offering his thoughts on the Kavanaugh allegations. “There’s a lot that we can say about that. But the first thing is, anybody who doesn’t take the grievances of a woman saying that she has been a victim and she wants justice, shame on them, because I’m tired of it,” he said. “I’m tired of men playing the victim. When he [Kavanaugh] started crying, I almost threw up in my mouth. He’s saying that his name has been destroyed, but this woman has emotional distress for the rest of her life. And, of course, innocent until proven guilty, but I don’t appreciate the fact that people are divided about supporting women who come forward.”
On a lighter note, Brown told THR that Queer Eye‘s Fab Five are currently filming in Kansas City, which is scheduled to wrap by November. On the upcoming third season, Brown shared, “There’s a lot more diversity. It’s the same fun. Jonathan’s bringing the comedy and I’m bringing the tears and we have everything in between.”
The evening, hosted by Dana Goldberg, also honored Jewel Thais-Williams with the Community Leadership Award and featured a performance by Brandon Stansell.