Last Saturday I participated in my second San Francisco GLAAD Media Awards, volunteering as a talent escort. It’s such a privilege to spend a day with the GLAAD staff, who are all so capable and competent and hardworking. The volunteers are also great, and I’ve been on facebook with several of the folks I met last year, so this year was like a big, happy reunion. Of course, there were many new faces, and I really enjoy meeting new people, especially the young volunteers who are so full of energy.
I volunteer for organizations like GLAAD because of my favorite uncle. He died ten years ago from HIV-related complications. I also have someone close to me who’s gay and in the military. Besides, I majored in theatre production, so I’ve always been fascinated with the entertainment industry and the media. How lucky am I to live in San Francisco where the GLAAD Media Awards are held? Of course, I’d love to participate in the Los Angeles and New York Awards as well, and who knows what the future will bring!
This year’s Awards were held in a big hotel, and after we first gathered in the volunteer room, we were taken on a tour of all the places we would be escorting our assigned talent. The GLAAD Awards consist of a pre-ceremony reception, a silent auction, a banquet, the Awards program itself, and then an after-party. It’s a long, exhausting day, but for a few hours you get to feel a part of something bigger and better than yourself.
As a talent escort, you are assigned one of the guest presenters, or one of the award recipients, or one of the performers. You take them where they need to go, making sure they make it onstage when needed, so they can relax and enjoy themselves. It’s exciting and nerve-wracking at the same time. All of us have radios with headsets, and that is the secret to knowing where to be and when. In between escorting, volunteers get to watch the Awards show, and it’s always very moving and inspiring.
The GLAAD people really treat their volunteers well. We get lots of great food, free T-shirts, books and badges, but the best part is being appreciated and treated as a member of the team. The hardest part is leaving the hotel and standing outside waiting for the bus to go home. Both years, I’ve felt like Cinderella after the ball, my coach turned back into a pumpkin, or should I say, a MUNI bus. Going back to regular life, after being a part of something so special, is a shock to the system. But at least there’s always next year!