Equality California Honors Kathy Griffin, “Queer Eye,” and Jewel Thais-Williams

Griffin: "But this is the time for the so-called 'others'—that's everyone in this room according to our fake president—because we are now the majority."

Last night Equality California, the nation’s largest statewide LGBTQ civil rights organization, hosted its 2018 Los Angeles Equality Awards. The Awards, held annually since 2016, recognize the individuals and groups whose work has pushed equality forward for the LGBTQ community.

“This organization is incredible and does such great work for our community,” explains Lance Bass, who was on hand to present Kathy Griffin with her Ally Leadership Award. “Just educating people out there and moving the ball forward, especially in a time right now when we’re at a pause. It’s really, truly important for organizations like this hold the ground and keep the encouragement up.”

Phil Faraone/Getty Images for Equality California

In fact, Equality California has been instrumental in passing more than 100 bills that have advanced LGBTQ rights in the California legislature; bills like SB1172, that bans conversion therapy on minors, and AB2501, which ended the “gay panic” and “trans panic” defenses in criminal cases.

“What a difference a year makes,” Kathy Griffin tells NewNowNext, referring to the backlash involving a photo of her holding a fake Donald Trump head. “A year ago I would have been afraid to walk into this hotel lobby. But the LGBTQ community has supported me through this 100%. Resistance takes many forms and I thought, ’leave it to the LGBTQ community to be ahead of the curve once again.'”

“What a time to be an ally!” said Griffin as she entered the room of 1,200 attendees on their feet with an ovation. The comedian was being recognized for her decades of activism with LGBTQ causes. “I want to talk to you guys tonight about how you can take action. The administration wants to roll the clock back. And guess who that affects? LGBTQ folks.”

She continued, “But this is the time for the so-called ’others’—that’s everyone in this room according to our fake president—because we are now the majority. We make up most of America. And I couldn’t be prouder to live in a diverse America.”

Phil Faraone/Getty Images for Equality California

“We live in a time right now where we have politicians, people in the media who are saying, ’If you are different, you aren’t part of the conversation,'” Queer Eye’s Karamo Brown, who was on hand to accept the Equality Visibility Award, tells NewNowNext. “I wholeheartedly disagree with that and it’s when we come together as one and we start to respect each other that we have an impact.”

Phil Faraone/Getty Images for Equality California

Jewel Thais-Williams, who founded L.A.’s iconic Jewel’s Catch One nightclub in 1973 and changed nightlife for black LGBTQ Angelenos, was honored with the Community Leadership Award.

“I think the most important thing for us to do now is to not assimilate and get caught up in broader society,” said Thais-Williams. “So that we can still maintain our integrity as gay and lesbian folk. My worst fear would be not supporting our own causes too. If things continue to go to the right, who knows where we’ll end up? And, you know, the LGBTQ community, we’re always the first to feel it.”

Bryan van Gorder usually writes about the places he's been or the famous people forced to talk to him.