PFLAG National Honors Sir Patrick Stewart, NFL’s Kluwe and Ayanbadejo, and Best-Selling Author Irving at Fifth Annual Straight for Equality Awards

An evening of awards, humor, and heartfelt stories about the importance of straight allies , honorees spoke from the heart about their dedication to the movement for LGBT equality and acceptance in their respective fields.

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NFL players Chris Kluwe and Brendon Ayanbadejo flank former NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue on the red carpet at PFLAG National's Straight for Equality Awards. Photo: D Dipasupil

NFL players Chris Kluwe and Brendon Ayanbadejo flank former NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue on the red carpet at PFLAG National's Straight for Equality Awards. Photo: D Dipasupil

Chris and Brendon understand that as long as professional sports are not welcoming – both in fact and in perception – to athletes who are LGBT...then children and adults who look to athletes in admiration and for inspiration will echo what they see.

New York, NY (PRWEB) April 05, 2013

PFLAG National last night held its fifth annual Straight for Equality Awards Gala at the New York Marriott Marquis. Straight for Equality—a nationwide outreach and education project created by PFLAG National—educates and empowers straight allies to advocate for and support lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people.

This year’s honors went to Sir Patrick Stewart (X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST; STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION; MATCH), award-winning author John Irving (THE WORLD ACCORDING TO GARP; IN ONE PERSON), NFL players Brendon Ayanbadejo and Chris Kluwe, and Whirlpool Corporation

Lizz Winstead (Co-Creator, THE DAILY SHOW) hosted the evening, and was joined on stage by actress/singer Eden Espinosa (WICKED), who provided the evening’s entertainment. Others appearing on stage included actor John Benjamin Hickey (THE BIG C; THE NORMAL HEART), multi-award winner Joel Grey (CABARET; WICKED), and former NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue.

Tagliabue—the first former high-ranking official of the NFL to speak out on LGBT equality and acceptance—spoke not only of his personal connection to the cause of LGBT equality as a longtime PFLAG member and the father of a gay son, but as an advocate for LGBT equality in sports.

Said Tagliabue, "Chris and Brendon understand that as long as professional sports are not welcoming – both in fact and in perception – to athletes who are LGBT, and as long as the ethos of professional sports is perceived to be homophobic, then children and adults who look to athletes in admiration and for inspiration will echo what they see."

Ayanbadejo and Kluwe reaffirmed the critical need for allies in professional sports as they accepted their awards from Tagliabue.

Honoree John Irving echoed Tagliabue’s simultaneous personal and professional support for LGBT equality—after writing about a number of LGBT characters in many of his novels over the years, his own son came out.

Sir Patrick Stewart not only graciously accepted his Straight for Equality in Entertainment Award, but asked award presenter—and longtime close friend—Joel Grey to serve as best man at his upcoming wedding to singer Sunny Ozell. Sir Ian McKellen will officiate at the ceremony.

Aside from the awards, the evening also included smart and hilarious commentary by Winstead, a moving musical performance by Espinosa, whose album LOOK AROUND remains on the charts on iTunes, and a lively auction featuring items donated by Marriott, Whirlpool and American Airlines.

Also announced at the event was PFLAG National’s partnership with The Ally Coalition (TAC), an organization founded by the band FUN. and designer Rachel Antonoff. Much like PFLAG’s own threefold mission of support, education, and advocacy, TAC believes it is the responsibility of allies to support LGBTQ causes and speak out against discrimination through education, awareness and advocacy.

Images from the PFLAG National Straight for Equality gala can be found on WireImage.

Founded in 1972 with the simple act of a mother supporting her gay son, PFLAG is the original family and ally organization. Made up of parents, families, friends, and straight allies uniting with LGBT people, PFLAG is committed to advancing equality through its mission of support, education and advocacy. Now in its 40th year, PFLAG has more than 350 chapters and 200,000 supporters crossing multiple generations of American families in major urban centers, small cities and rural areas in all 50 states. To find out more about PFLAG National’s programs and services, please visit us at http://www.pflag.org.

Straight for Equality is a project of PFLAG National. It was launched in 2007 to invite, educate, and engage straight individuals to have the discussions necessary to move equality forward for their gay, lesbian, bi, and transgender friends in simple, nonpolitical ways. Learn more at http://www.straightforequality.org today.


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Sir Patrick Stewart accepts the 2013 PFLAG National Straight for Equality in Entertainment Award Photo: D Dipasupil Sir Patrick Stewart accepts the 2013 PFLAG National Straight for Equality in Entertainment Award Photo: D Dipasupil

Sir Patrick Stewart accepts the 2013 PFLAG National Straight for Equality in Entertainment Award Photo: D Dipasupil