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For the first time, the Point Foundation — an organization currently providing scholarships to 84 LGBTQ students — held its annual gala at The Plaza in New York City on Monday night.
Points Honors took place inside the third-floor Grand Ballroom, which Christie’s auctioneer Robbie Gordy christened, “Liberace’s living room.” The fundraiser featured musical performances, comedian Emma Willmann as host and an awards presentation to three LGBTQ advocates for their leadership (screenwriter Dustin Lance Black), courage (actress Uzo Aduba) and impact (MSNBC’s Thomas Roberts). Several actors and real-life personalities from Black’s recent ABC miniseries spanning 45 years of LGBT history, We Will Rise, were in attendance, as well as many of Aduba’s fellow Broadway veterans (most Broadway theaters are dark on Monday nights). The proceedings could have doubled as a tribute to Gilbert Baker, the creator of the Rainbow Flag, who died Friday at age 65.
Black — who won as Oscar for writing Milk, the 2008 biopic starring Sean Penn as Harvey Milk, the gay rights activist who was assassinated in San Francisco’s City Hall — was absent himself, but he delivered a videotaped message from London, filmed alongside his fiancé, Olympic diver Tom Daley.
Besides the scholarship recipients, the night really belonged to Aduba, who received standing ovations before and after her nine-minute speech. On the red carpet, the Orange Is the New Black actress detailed her first advocacy experience to The Hollywood Reporter — standing up for a bullied female classmate in the cafeteria as a Medfield, Mass., eighth grader. “The next day I came to school, and they all were sitting at a different table,” Aduba recalled. “I sat at that table by myself everyday” in protest.
Onstage, she thanked her mom, a Nigerian immigrant, “for never questioning, or wondering, or classifying sexuality or gender as anything other than a ‘so what?’ question.”
Aduba’s award was presented by Javier Munoz, who plays the titular role in Broadway’s Hamilton and met Aduba at the start of this decade when she played his mother in Venice, an eventual off-Broadway play that originated at the Kansas City Repertory Theatre in Missouri. “She became a confidante very quickly in my life, someone who has been a major support to me throughout everything,” Munoz told THR.
Aduba previously performed at Point Honors back in 2014, singing “Don’t Rain on My Parade” from Funny Girl.
Previous honorees at the gala include Lena Dunham, Robin Roberts and Jeffrey Tambor. (Judith Light, who plays Tambor’s ex-wife on the Amazon series Transparent, is an honorary member of the board of directors.)
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