Jennifer Beals was there to present the Davidson/Valentini Award, which is given to "an openly lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender media professional who has made a significant difference in promoting equal rights for our community." This year’s winner was L Word creator Ilene Chaiken, who was also hands down the best dressed star on the red carpet, with Beals a close second.
Beals said that playing a lesbian has been a powerfully enlightening experience for her. "I wasn’t aware of gay issues before at all," she told me. "I had no idea the LGBT community was not included in hate crime legislation, and when I found that out, it was very, very, very upsetting. I feel connected to the LGBT community by virtue of having always felt ‘other,’ so it was a natural connection. But certainly there are so many political issues that I wasn’t aware of."
She continued: "Even when we first started the pilot, I remember sitting in a restaurant with my husband, and we were canoodling. And I realized if I had been with my girlfriend, that would have been a very big and very bold gesture. And that to me is just incredibly bizarre. I’m much more aware now."
Beals told me she believes lesbian and gay story lines on television can only help increase queer visibility and equality in the real world. "Through storytelling, everyone is linked, because everybody recognizes one another’s humanity," she said. "One community is connected to another, and then you see the ways in which we’re similar are much more numerous than the ways in which we’re different."
Which isn’t to say it’s all about politics. Chaiken said the next season of The L Word was going to be "good and fun, and we’re going to honor these characters." Asked if there’d be any surprises in the next season, she said, "I hope we keep you all on your toes, and it’s fun and exciting, and we give you some fun and satisfaction, and keep you screaming in the aisles."
Other winners and nominees of the night included filmmakers Luane Beck and Kim Clark (God and Gays):
Anne Stockwell, editor of the Advocate, who accepted the award for Outstanding Magazine – Overall Coverage:
I asked Stockwell what she thought about the impact of increased LGBT presence in the media. “I think it couldn’t be better,” she said. “The fact that we’re going to see tomorrow night this high profile wedding, and everybody’s talking about it. Wow. I’m sure that some people feel very threatened when they see our stories ‘normalized.’ They’re losing their effectiveness, and I’m sure they’re very sad about that.” She smiled. “But I’m not.”
— by Christie Keith