We were seeing stars at the 11th annual NY Gay & Lesbian Anti-Violent Project Courage Awards.
The night started at an early 6:15, when we stumbled off the F-train into what seemed like an idyllic holiday celebration at Macy’s. We were wrong: it was a film set and plebes such as ourselves aren’t permitted past.* Perturbed by our clogged route, we hoofed it around the legendary department store and to Gotham Hall: a building that exists solely to have fancy event for fancy people. Sure, the Anti-Violence Project may only have $2.2 million (about $400,000 of which comes from the Awards), but they know how to party!
Being a fancy party, there was a coat check and we gabbed a bit with the girls about how the cold makes our nose run. They thought our forthright ways foreign and, ultimately, charming. The bathroom attendant – remember, fancy! – thought our fall-induced sniffles something else. We cleared that one right up.
Booger free and loving it, we headed upstairs to the VIP room where we schmoozed with Clarence Patton, AVP’s amiable executive director. Not wanting to blow our video load, we kept the conversation brief. Plus, BD Wong came in and sort of stole the show. He’s hosted the Courage Awards for like a billion years, so the AVP people think he’s pretty special. Which he is…
Anyway, we did our interviews with Patton and Wong and then pounced on Assembly Member Daniel O’Donnell, who received one of the four Courage Awards. We tried to work his sister Rosie into the conversation, but it didn’t seem right. And, what’s more, we were enthralled by him. Very magnetic. We ended up having another brief chat at the bar, when he let us order: “Youth first”. If only he knew!
We milled about a bit and ended up running into a Go journo named Lee, who told us Assemblywoman Deborah Glick had come in and hid among the tall people. We couldn’t find her and were just about to cry our sorrows away when – flash! – in walked Top Chef’s Josie Smith-Malave. Smith-Malave and her lawyer Yetta Kurland were celebrating the long overdue arrests for Smith-Malave’s summer hate attack. Not too much celebrating, of course, because many more suspects remain at large. We’d tell you what they had to say, but then we’d ruin the video. Things lulled a bit while we waited for Alan Cumming, who really seemed to be taking his sweet time. Those famous gays!
Dinner couldn’t have come sooner because we felt like our stomachs were about to implode. We hurried on over to our gold bathed tables, ready for the hot beef we had been promised. Then, just as we were about to chat up our handsome tablemates, we got the call: Alan Cumming had arrived!
Our bottomless love for all things Cumming immediately overcame our empty bellies. We were on our feet and on the go, but so was Cumming. He had to pee, but promised to meet us in the stairwell. The message barely registered, for we were still reeling from the revelation that Cumming urinates. Stars really are like us…
After hearing about Cumming’s misadventures in romance – and his brilliant new red Hush Puppies – we headed back down to dinner, where BD Wong took the stage to get down to courageous business. The Law & Order: SVU actor opened with something about how he can’t tell whether Larry Craig counts as fat or thin. Who knows – we were transfixed by our salmon tartar. One of Wong’s gags did snag, however: “It’s great having a queer event… I’ve tried to pick up an alarming number of lesbians. I’ve been shaken to my core. I’m a sucker for a necktie. No pun intended.” It took the crowd a second, but they went wild – especially the lesbians.
O’Donnell took his award first and made a great speech about not feeling courageous. So humble! Wong then likened him to the cowardly lion. The Sundance Channel came on down to receive its award for their consistently queer-friendly programming, like TransGeneration. Christine Quinn popped in soon after to discuss her own work as AVP executive director. Verna Eggleston of the Bloomberg Family Foundation also received an award for her consistent good deeds and well-wishing. She and all of the other honorees sort of make us want to do good – but mostly for the food.
[Many thanks, as always, to Zach Golden for taping, entertaining and generally being amazing.]
*Rumor has it the “film set” was actually pre-shot footage for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade. Our childhood illusions of a live parade have been dispelled by Hollywood’s bright lights. Sigh…