NEW YORK (Mar. 4, 2023) Last night, iconic LGBTQ+ community organization PFLAG celebrated 50 years of leading with love at a spectacular gala event hosted by comedian and actress Amber Ruffin at New York's Marriott Marquis Hotel. In the course of the dynamic event PFLAG honored Olympic gold medalist and LGBTQ+ activist Tom Daley with the 2023 George Takei Advocate Award. MondelÄ“z International, the parent company of OREO, was honored with the Straight for Equality in the Workplace Award, and Big Freedia was honored with PFLAG's Breaking Barriers Award. The "Queen of Bounce" herself also surprised the audience with a performance of her smash hit Karaoke!
"Across the country, people are working to restrict how and when queer folks can not only congregate but be their authentic selves," said Brian K. Bond, Executive Director of PFLAG National. "Yet, every day PFLAG chapter leaders and members are showing up for their communities. They are inspiring. They give us purpose. They are leading with love."
The throughline of PFLAG's history of leading with love was present throughout the night as speakers and performers represented past, present and future throughout. "I'm very proud of my mother, Jeanne Manford. I'm proud of what she did and of how many people she and my father, Jules Manford, helped," said Suzanne Manford Swann, whose mother and brother Morty founded PFLAG.
Tom Daley, who was honored with PFLAG's George Takei Advocate Award seemed to echo the words of a young Silvia Rivera* when advocating for trans inclusion in sport, "If we start banning people and excluding people from the thing they love to do, who are we to decide that? Who are we to decide who should be and who shouldn't be involved in something someone loves to do?"
Before hearing from a PFLAG mom and her 12-year-old gender nonconforming "tomgirl" son, PFLAG's Breaking Barriers Award honoree Big Freedia shared her own story of being affirmed. "If you ever thought you couldn't overcome life's struggles, please know that I was once an overweight kid from Josephine and the streets of New Orleans, but what I had was a mama who loved and supported me every step of the way."
PFLAG's 50th Anniversary Gala, which raised more than $114,000, including a matching donation from the David Bohnett Foundation, featured performances and appearances by: Tituss Burgess (Schmigadoon!), Melissa King (Top Chef: All Stars winner and Honorary Host Committee member), Dylan Mulvaney (TikTok Star, advocate, actor), Eureka O'Hara (HBOMax's We're Here, RuPaul's Drag Race), Evann McIntosh (music artist), Rose Abdoo (HBO's Hacks), Robin S. (music artist), Tati Gabrielle (Netflix's YOU and Kaleidoscope), Johnny Manuel (music artist), Sam Champion (ABC's Good Morning America), VINCINT (music artist), and Broadway favorites: J. Harrison Ghee (Some Like It Hot), Jay Armstrong Johnson (Parade), and the Queens of SIX (Bella Coppola, Leandra Ellis-Gaston, Zoe Jensen, Hailee Kaleem Wright, Nasia Thomas).
The Honorary Host Committee included celebrated LGBTQ+ people and allies Andrew Rannells, Audra McDonald, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Justin Mikita, Kristin Chenoweth, Melissa King, Martha Plimpton, Matt Doyle, Nate Berkus, Patrick Stewart, Sunny Ozell, Will Swenson, and Wilson Cruz.
For fifty years, PFLAG has been where LGBTQ+ people, parents, families, and allies have come together in pursuit of justice and affirmation. For more information about PFLAG's 50th Anniversary Gala, visit pflag.org/gala50 .
Video at publicity.gettyimages.com/s/xph4hfxpz4n3xfbjn7ts4g .
PFLAG is an organization of LGBTQ+ people, parents, families, and allies who work together to create an equitable and inclusive world. We are hundreds of thousands of people and hundreds of chapters from coast to coast who are leading with love to support families, educate allies, and advocate for just, equitable, and inclusive legislation and policies. Since our founding in 1973, PFLAG works every day to ensure LGBTQ+ people everywhere are safe, celebrated, empowered and loved. Learn more, find support, donate, and take action at PFLAG.org .