4:14pm PT by Chris Gardner
Inside Advocate's Champions of Pride Event With Laverne Cox, Karamo Brown and Wilson Cruz
Pride month kicked off Friday night not with a bang, but instead, the flip of a switch.
At least that's how it went down in Los Angeles at the mammoth Beverly Center retail and dining complex. The Advocate teamed with the Beverly Center to celebrate Champions of Pride inside newly opened restaurant Farmhouse by inviting VIPs from the city's LGBTQ community for a cocktail-party-meets-awards-presentation hosted by Laverne Cox and Queer Eye star Karamo Brown.
It was Cox who was charged with announcing the flip of a switch that would illuminate Beverly Center’s exterior in Pride's signature rainbow coloring, marking the first time ever that building has been lit. (As part of June's pride month festivities, the exterior will be lit every evening as a symbol of the shopping center’s ongoing support of the LGBTQ community.) However, the lighting portion of the celebration encountered a minor hiccup when Cox counted from 10 down to 1 (a la New Year's Eve), and when she finished counting, the exterior did not light up as intended.
The party kept moving inside, however, with performances by American Idol breakout Ada Vox and Newbody. In terms of awards, four honorees received a pat on the back for their contributions on behalf of the LGBTQ community: Parkland survivor and advocate Emma Gonzales, ballroom icon and trans actress Cece Suazo, CEO of Extraordinary Families Sarah Boone and founder of the first black, gay disco in L.A., Jewels Thais-Williams. All were present except for Gonzales, who stayed local in Florida in order to attend her school graduation.
Other guests included Alexandra Billings (Transparent), actor Clark Moore (Love, Simon), YouTube personality Connor Franta, music marketer, DJ and owner of IHEARTCOMIX Franki Chan, actress Jasika Nicole (The Good Doctor), Jill Soloway (Transparent), songwriter Justin Tranter, YouTube personality and transgender rights activist Kat Blaque, actor Kevin McHale (Glee), director Michael Sucsy (Grey Gardens), director Mike Roma, dancer and actress Mollee Gray (Teen Beach Movie), YouTube personality and LGBTQ activist Nikita Dragun, musician Shea Diamond, actress Stephanie Beatriz (Brooklyn Nine-Nine) and actor Tonatiuh Elizarraraz (Jane the Virgin).
Tonight, on first day of #PrideMonth, I went to the mall for @TheAdvocateMag #ChampionsofPride event, interviewed bunch of gays, allies outside new restaurant called Farmhouse. Can’t even imagine what next 29 days will be like pic.twitter.com/bPZV3R7cl6
— Chris Gardner (@chrissgardner) June 2, 2018