I spent Saturday night as a talent escort at the San Francisco GLAAD Media Awards. These awards recognize outstanding representations of the LGBT community in the media, and they are held each year in New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco. This was my third year participating, and last year I blogged about my volunteer experience. A talent escort is assigned one of the presenters, award recipients, or performers, and their job is to make sure they arrive on the “red carpet” to meet the press, find their table at the banquet, get to the green room backstage, and make it onstage at the right time. This allows the participants to relax and enjoy the event.
As before, I got to witness some of the intense work and coordination involved in putting together a successful Awards ceremony. The GLAAD staff is always impressive, and they work long hours behind the scenes to ensure a smooth-running presentation. This night has become one of the highlights of my year, and I always look forward to seeing Jackie and Tom and the other staff members. It’s wonderful seeing the other talent escorts again, and we spend our breaks in the volunteer room catching up and taking silly photos. I’m on facebook with many of them, and there are new escorts to get acquainted with each year. Of course, there are other volunteers besides the talent escorts: many people work in teams checking in attendees, taking tickets, running the fundraising auctions, etc. Most of the volunteers live in the Bay Area, but some of them travel around the US to help out with all three events, and I’m in awe of their commitment to GLAAD.
It was a particularly good presentation this year. I got to watch most of the show, since the presenter I escorted went onstage near the beginning. The host was Naya Rivera (Santana on Glee) and some of the participants were Milk screenwriter Dustin Lance Black, Top Chef winner Yigit Pura, HGTV designer John Gidding, True Blood‘s Nelsan Ellis, rugby player Ben Cohen, actress Kim Cattrall, The Kids Are All Right director Lisa Cholodenko, DWTS‘s Louis Van Amstel and Mario Lopez, actor and musician Christian Chavez, Sara Ramirez from Grey’s Anatomy, and Gbenga Akinnagbe from The Wire.
Two performers from Cirque du Soleil’s Zumanity provided some jaw-dropping entertainment. A platform with a short pole was placed in the center aisle, and this amazing dancer performed gymnastic moves while balancing on the pole. He was beautiful. My photo doesn’t do him justice.
Naya Rivera selected two members of the audience for a Glee quiz. She also auctioned off kisses to benefit GLAAD, and they went for $3500. One of the winners did a little dance of delight onstage before receiving his kiss.
Some of the other highlights for me: Lisa Cholodenko’s little boy, brought onstage with her when she accepted the award for Outstanding Film—Wide Release. He was about four years old and completely adorable. Kim Cattrall’s acceptance speech for the Golden Gate Award, which was funny and passionate. Social worker and activist Janice Langbehn receiving a standing ovation for her fight to get LGBT families equal hospital visitation rights throughout the United States.
After the Awards, there was an after-party where we had a chance to relax and interact with the attendees. I’m not much of a party type, so I didn’t stay for long. I came away from the hotel with a bag of free goodies, some fun photos, a bunch of new programs to watch (inspired by all the folks I met), and lots of good memories.
To see more photos from the event, check out GLAAD’s website. Watch this video of Dustin Lance Black’s acceptance speech on YouTube. His award was presented by Louis Van Amstel and John Gidding, who can be seen at the beginning and end of the video.