On Sunday, September 13, Equality California, the nation’s largest statewide LGBTQ+ civil rights organization, hosted its first-ever statewide “Golden State Equality Awards” virtual celebration.
Led by “Pose” star Angelica Ross, the evening was filled with powerful tributes and inspiring moments highlighting the essential work carried out by Equality California in the fight for LGBTQ+ civil rights and social justice, raising over $1.75 million for the cause.
International superstars Gloria Estefan and Rita Moreno honored their longtime friend and collaborator Norman Lear with the Ally Leadership Award for his lifelong commitment to civil rights and increasing onscreen representation of Black, Latinx and LGBTQ+ people. Pete & Chasten Buttigieg received the Equality Trailblazer Award, following Pete’s groundbreaking run for president. Executive Producer Laverne Cox, Director/Producer Sam Feder and Producer Amy Scholder accepted the Equality Visibility Award on behalf of the impactful Netflix Original Documentary Disclosure.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi honored the late U.S. Representative John Lewis, a civil rights legend and longtime ally to the LGBTQ+ community, with a moving tribute to his life and career, accompanied by a poignant performance from Rufus Wainwright.
Those tuning in to the broadcast were treated to incredible musical performances from the legendary Melissa Etheridge, Shea Diamond, Alex Newell, Robin S and Betty Who, as well.
Other members and the LGBTQ+ community and allies who lent their voices to the ceremony included comedian Tig Notaro, actor Zachary Quinto, “How to Get Away With Murder” star Conrad Ricamora, “RuPaul’s Drag Race” and “We’re Here” star Bob the Drag Queen, “The Flash” and Love, Simon star Keiynan Lonsdale, and All-WNBA guard Chelsea Gray of the Los Angeles Sparks.
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The “Golden State Equality Awards” started with regional pre-show cocktail hours celebrating the LGBTQ+ and allied communities in Sacramento, San Francisco, San Diego, Los Angeles and Palm Springs. During this time, the organization recognized additional honorees including California State Treasurer Fiona Ma, California Legislative Black Caucus Chair Assemblymember Shirley N. Weber, California Legislative LGBTQ Caucus Chair Emeritus Assemblymember Evan Low, California Assembly Speaker Emeritus and UC Regents Chair John A. Pérez, Chula Vista Mayor Mary Casillas Salas, Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California CEO & President Jodi Hicks, TransLatin@ Coalition President Bamby Salcedo, Founding Director of the Williams Institute at UCLA Law Brad Sears, trans advocate Evan Minton, trans advocate Connor Maddocks and frontline healthcare and grocery store workers from Desert Regional Medical Center, Eisenhower Health and UFCW Local 1167.
Leadership sponsors of the 2020 Golden State Equality Awards included AT&T, The Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation, Southwest Airlines, Uber and Weedmaps. Statewide sponsors included The Coca-Cola Company, Edison International, Farmers Insurance, Kaiser Permanente, La Crema Wine, The PG&E Corporation Foundation, Reed & Davidson, LLP, Sempra Energy, Sutter Health, Tito’s Handmade Vodka and Walmart. Amazon, Facebook, Gilead, Sara Jacobs, Lyft, Molina Healthcare, Frederick W. Noble and United Airlines were Presenting Sponsors of the Golden State Equality Awards.