(*homocinematically inclined)

Monday, September 17, 2018

Reverend's Preview: Super Heroes to Be Honored at Vanguard Awards

Four real-life superheroes will be honored at the Los Angeles LGBT Center's 49th annual gala Vanguard Awards on Saturday, September 22nd.  The event will take place at the Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills.

The members of this extraordinary quartet are Grammy-winning singer, philanthropist and actor Ricky Martin; film and television producer, writer and director Greg Berlanti; Robbie Rogers, accomplished athlete and producer (as well as Berlanti's husband); and philanthropist Ariadne Getty. Previous honorees include Miley Cyrus, Jane Fonda, Elton John, George & Brad Takei, Neil Patrick Harris & David Burtka, Jesse Tyler Ferguson & Justin Mikita, Wanda Sykes and Lily Tomlin.

One of the nation’s premier LGBT charity events, the Vanguard Awards brings together more than 1,200 of the region’s most important leaders and influencers in the civic, corporate, entertainment, and philanthropic communities to celebrate this year’s inspirational honorees for their unwavering support of the LGBT community and their dedication to creating positive change in the world.  Guests enjoy cocktails, dinner and entertainment along with a not-to-be-missed silent auction.

“Our honorees fully embody strength, compassion, and resilience. They set the stage for what will be an amazing and inspiring evening,” said Los Angeles LGBT Center CEO Lorri L. Jean.  “At a time when threats to the well-being of the LGBT community happen almost daily, this event will be a celebration of our collective humanity and commitment to building a world where LGBT people thrive.”

Recently nominated for an Emmy Award for Best Supporting Actor in the FX Drama Series, The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story, Ricky Martin needs little introduction.  He continues to soar in his third decade as a leader in the entertainment industry.  Since his first solo album release in 1991, Martin has appreciated a worldwide fan base, sold over 70 million records, and has won multiple Grammy awards.  In 2004, he founded The Ricky Martin Foundation, an organization dedicated to denouncing and exposing global human trafficking that enslaves approximately 30 million people.  After the catastrophic Hurricanes Irma and Maria of Puerto Rico in 2017, Martin was compelled to start an initiative to revive his homeland.  The Ricky Martin Foundation organized the Puerto Rico Relief Fund, which has raised almost $5 million to date.

Ariadne Getty is a lifelong philanthropist dedicated to serving disenfranchised populations.  She is the President and Executive Director of the Ariadne Getty Foundation, which since 2004 has partnered with non-profit organizations worldwide to improve the lives of individuals and communities through large-scale investments and social activism.  In addition to financial contributions, Ariadne donates her time and energy to causes she supports.  As a member of GLAAD’s Board of Directors since 2016, she works tirelessly to inspire and motivate others to better understand and accept the LGBTQ community.

Golden Globe-nominated writer, director and producer Greg Berlanti is the force behind several of the most inventive and acclaimed works in film and television, including multiple interpretations of classic DC Comics superheroes.  He is best known for his work as executive producer and co-creator of The CW’s Arrow, The Flash, Legends of Tomorrow, Riverdale and Supergirl.  Berlanti's numerous upcoming television projects include Lifetime’s straight-to-series thriller You; the live action versions of DC Entertainment’s Titans and Doom Patrol; The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina for Netflix; God Friended Me and The Red Line for CBS; and the recently announced Batwoman series for The CW.  Berlanti will soon make television history with a total of 14 scripted series on the air at the same time.  His most recent feature-film directorial project is this year's critically-acclaimed gay romance Love, Simon.

Berlanti's husband since 2017 is television producer and former professional soccer player Robbie Rogers.  He is best known as the first openly-gay male athlete to compete in a top North American professional sports league.  Internationally, Rogers represented the US Olympic Team in Beijing in 2008.  He published his memoir, Coming Out to Play, in 2014 and was inducted into the National Gay and Lesbian Sports Hall of Fame in 2015.  As an LGBT advocate, Rogers currently works closely with charities such as GLSEN, championing LGBT issues in K-12 Education, and serves as an Ambassador for The Stonewall Inn Gives Back Initiative.  He and Berlanti will co-produce the upcoming TV series All American, to debut on The CW in October, 2018.

Together, Rogers and Berlanti are the proud parents of a 2-year old son, Caleb. We love being married and being dads," the couple replied when they recently took time out of their very busy schedules to answer a few questions. "Caleb reminds us every day how much we love him. Watching him grow up has been special for us both and one of the greatest things about our wedding was having him there to be a part of the festivities."

I asked them what the Vanguard Award means to them, individually and as a couple. "First and foremost, we are both honored to be in such good company; many of the past individuals who have received this honor are inspirations to us both," they replied. "Secondly, the LGBT Center holds such an important and special place in our hearts and we are so grateful to everyone who works so tirelessly to support this important organization."

Berlanti and Rogers are looking forward to their first TV co-production, which will be premiering this fall. Gay viewers will likely find much to appreciate in it, especially since Berlanti's other series prominently feature LGBT characters. "We both individually try to make our shows as diverse as possible," they said, "and we feel extremely lucky to be working together on new projects such as The CW’s All American, which tackles many aspects of self-identity and love."

Since 1969, the Los Angeles LGBT Center has cared for, championed and celebrated LGBT individuals and families in Los Angeles and beyond. The Center's nearly 700 employees today provide services for more LGBT people than any other organization in the world.

Tickets for the September 22nd event are now on sale here. For the latest news and information, follow @lalgbtcenter on social media and join the conversation using #VanguardAwards.

Preview by Rev. Chris Carpenter, resident film and stage critic of Movie Dearest and Rage Monthly Magazine.

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