Will & Grace creators Max Mutchnick and David Kohan were among the honorees at the 2017 Logo Trailblazer Honors, a one-hour special celebrating pioneers in the LGBT rights movement.
In their acceptance speech, the men discussed the cultural significance of their groundbreaking NBC sitcom, which is being revived this fall, as well as changes in the political landscape since the show’s 1997 premiere.
“The country seems more polarized than ever, with one half wanting to reduce the other half to a series of pejoratives,” Kohan told the star-studded crowd at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York. “And the scariest thing about this is that once you start labeling people and putting them into categories, it becomes easier to marginalize them and ignore their humanity. And more than any other medium, television has the power to represent people and transcend stereotypes.”
“We wanted to present characters who were fully realized and multifaceted, who were like people we knew or wanted to know,” Mutchnick added.
“Who Will and Jack slept with was not their defining qualities,” Kohan continued. “They were defined by their humanity. Our goal was not to show what made gay characters different, but rather what made them universal.”
The pair also teased Will & Grace star Debra Messing, who was on hand to introduce them. “Debra Messing, you are the heart and soul of our show,” Mutchnick told her. “You are the reason we love coming to work.”
“Okay, she still doesn’t realize she’s in an ensemble, so she needs this,” Kohan joked after making Messing cover her ears.
“We would’ve said the same thing about Megan and Sean and Eric if they had come,” Mutchnick said.
Joe Biden also congratulated Mutchnick and Kohan on being LGBT trailblazers in a surprise video message. “This groundbreaking show helped countless Americans evolve to understand, accept and love our gay friends, our family and our neighbors,” said the former vice president.
Watch Mutchnick and Kohan’s acceptance speech and introduction below.
Did you miss the show? Watch the 2017 Logo Trailblazer Honors in its entirety here.