NYC fundraiser Women’s Event 11 honors out lesbians

This weekend Lori and I attended the New York Gay and Lesbian Center‘s annual fundraiser Women’s Event 11 at the Chelsea Piers, which this year honored Ilene Chaiken (Creator, Writer and Executive Producer of The L Word), Stephanie Gibbons (Executive Vice President of Marketing and On-Air Promotions, FX), and Lisa Sherman (Executive Vice President and General Manager, Logo). The audience included hundreds of well-dressed lesbians in black, including Rosie’s partner Kelli O’Donnell and NYC council speaker Christine Quinn, along with gay men and straight allies, like MTV CEO Judy McGrath.

During dinner, there was a live auction for a spot in an L Word promo — with Pam Grier, Rose Rollins and Daniela Sea there to help encourage bids — and a handful of speeches.

When Jennifer Beals introduced Ilene, she delivered a moving, brilliantly articulated speech about gay rights — noticeably holding back tears at one point when talking about how she believed her daughter would one day ask her, "you mean there was a time when gay people weren’t allowed to get married?" — and received a standing ovation from the audience.

In accepting her award, Chaiken talked about how she always thought that by the time The L Word ended, there would be other shows about lesbians on mainstream TV — that we would have our lesbian cop show, our lesbian sitcom, etc. She pointed out that, in fact, things are actually worse now for lesbian visibility on mainstream TV than they were when The L Word launched six years ago. (All of which is depressingly true, and the reason we struggle sometimes to find positive things to say on AfterEllen.com about broadcast TV.)

When out CNN political commentator and Huffington Post editor Hillary Rosen introduced Lisa Sherman, she talked about Lisa’s ground-breaking coming-out in corporate America that eventually became a Harvard Business School case study (and the focus of a New York Times article). Since Lisa bought my websites a few years ago, you’d think I would have remembered this story, but apparently that information has been crowded out of my brain by all the names of lesbian and bisexual characters on TV.

When they showed a video montage of Lisa’s work at Logo, there was an AfterEllen.com shout-out (yay!) and a very funny videotaped message from Katy Perry revealing that Lisa was the girl she kissed in the song. Yes, Katy Perry of "I Kissed a Girl" fame (there are some perks to working for MTV).

In general, I dislike Katy and the underlying homophobia of her admittedly catchy song. But Katy’s message to Lisa was pretty funny, especially when she re-appeared at the end of the video and said something like "And Lisa, I still have your chapstick, in case you want it back."

There aren’t a ton of photos available from the event, but I found a few to share with you:

Next week, look for photos from POWER UP’s annual lesbians-in-black fundraiser, which will be held this Sunday, Nov. 9, in Los Angeles. (I’ll bring my own camera this time — and probably make Lori carry it, which she’ll love, but isn’t that what girlfriends are for?)

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