PFLAG National – the nation’s largest organization uniting families, allies, and people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) – announced Thursday it will honor Emmy and Tony Award-winning actress and singer Kristin Chenoweth, speaker/author Dr. Melissa Harris-Perry, and Wells Fargo at the 8th Annual Straight for Equality Awards Gala.
Chenoweth will receive the Straight for Equality in Entertainment award, Harris-Perry will receive the inaugural Straight for Equality in Media award, and Wells Fargo will receive the Straight for Equality in the Workplace honors on Monday, April 4, 2016 at the Marriott Marquis New York in Times Square.
PFLAG National also announced that actor/comedian Alec Mapa will once again return as host for the evening. Also announced: a special performance from the 2015 Tony Award winner for Best Musical, FUN HOME. Additional special guests will be announced soon.
Straight for Equality – a national outreach and education project created by PFLAG National – invites, educates, and engages the next generation of allies joining together with LGBTQ people in the effort to achieve equality for all. Straight for Equality awards are presented to individuals who are transforming the way that LGBTQ people are understood and treated, using their talents and platforms in their respective fields to empower others to become engaged and outspoken allies for fairness, diversity, and inclusion.
Chenoweth has long been an outspoken ally to the LGBTQ community, speaking out, for example, as a person of strong faith in favor of marriage equality, and in support of Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS and GLSEN. The Point Foundation has honored her work as an ally, as has GLAAD. Past recipients of the Straight for Equality in Entertainment Award include Sir Patrick Stewart, OBE, Sigourney Weaver, Audra McDonald and Will Swenson, Ally Sheedy, Rosie Perez, Liza Minnelli, and Transparent’s Jill Soloway.
“Kristin Chenoweth has long been an ally that PFLAG National has wanted to honor,” said PFLAG National President Jean Hodges. “We are thrilled that this year we will have the opportunity to do so at our largest event of the year. Kristin truly proves that to be a person of faith and an ally to the LGBTQ community do not have to be mutually exclusive.”
“I am truly honored to be recognized by PFLAG National, an organization that has spent over 40 years on the frontlines working with people who are LGBTQ, their families and allies,” said Chenoweth of receiving the award. “I speak out as an ally because it’s my truth, it’s what’s in my heart. And, with all of the negativity out in the world, I think it’s especially important for LGBTQ youth to hear people of strong faith supporting them; I’m proud to be one of them.”
Emmy Award-winning comedian and actress Rosie O’Donnell will take the stage to present the award to Chenoweth.
Harris-Perry will receive the inaugural Straight for Equality in Media award, recognizing her for her fearless stance in covering issues at the intersections of sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, race, class, and religion. The former host of Melissa Harris-Perry has covered a wide variety of topics on television, in her book Sister Citizen, and in her teaching at Wake Forest University, from more mainstream issues such as marriage equality to critical, but often less-discussed ones such as the treatment of trans inmates in the prison system; that coverage has been brave, consistent, and always inclusive of LGBTQ voices. Her advocacy on behalf of the LGBTQ movement, in particular as an ally to the trans community, has placed such discussions in the mainstream while reminding people that progress has been made, but there is still much work to be done.
“Dr. Harris-Perry’s passion for social justice is absolutely inspiring. We are honored to recognize her work and her words, which are an essential voice in the current conversation about diversity and intersectionality,” said Hodges.
“I am deeply honored and moved to receive this award from PFLAG. At this same time, I am reminded that being an ally is a position of relative privilege, it is the bodies, lives, souls, and families of LGBT youth and adults that suffer daily surveillance and violence. As a cis, straight woman it is not just an ally role, but a fundamental responsibility to help dismantle inequality,” said Perry.
Wells Fargo will receive the Straight for Equality in the Workplace honors, given each year to a corporation that demonstrates outstanding leadership in creating inclusive and supportive workplaces -both through policy and organizational culture, internally and externally – for LGBTQ employees through engagement of allies.
Wells Fargo’s dedication to diversity and inclusion is evident in its rich history of ensuring fair and equal treatment for LGBT employees, customers, small business owners, and community members nationwide: the organization added sexual orientation to its non-discrimination policy in 1987 and was the first financial institution to join the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce. In addition, every year since 2003, Wells Fargo has received a score of 100 on the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index. Wells Fargo was also named, multiple times, as top company for LGBT employees by DiversityInc.
“Through working with the Wells Fargo Employee Resource Group, PRIDE Team Member Network, offering online ally education programs, we have had the privilege of seeing the impact of those efforts on ally engagement at Wells Fargo,” said PFLAG National Interim Executive Director Elizabeth Kohm. “We are also proud to partner with the Wells Fargo Foundation to carry forward the value of inclusion into our work for safe schools and safe communities for the LGBTQ community. We are excited to honor the organization’s achievements and commitment to equality.”
“Wells Fargo’s commitment to the LGBT community goes back nearly 30 years,” said John Lake, LGBT Segment Leader for Wells Fargo. “The results of PFLAG’s successful work to engage and educate LGBT allies illustrates the impact that is possible when diverse individuals work together toward a common goal. Wells Fargo is grateful and humbled to receive this prestigious recognition.”
With diversity and inclusion as a top priority of the work accomplished through PFLAG National’s Straight for Equality program, leaders from a broad spectrum of industries will be highlighted throughout the evening. FINRA Chairman and CEO, Richard Ketchum will play a part in this year’s gala, which will be co-chaired by Johnson & Johnson’s Chief Diversity Officer, Wanda Bryant Hope and Marriott International’s Vice President of Multi-Cultural Affairs, Apoorva Gandhi.
Previous honorees Johnson & Johnson, KPMG, Marriott, Whirlpool, and MetLife are just a few of the nearly 30 corporate partners supporting the gala. Others include Walmart, General Motors, Chobani, American Airlines, Alcoa, and Lockheed Martin.
The Eighth Annual Straight for Equality Awards Gala will be held on Monday, April 4, 2016 in New York City at the New York Marriott Marquis Hotel. For a full list of corporate partners and information on how to become a corporate partner, or to purchase tickets or a table, please visit straightforequality.org/
The Eighth Annual Straight for Equality Awards Gala
Monday, April 4 | The New York Marriott Marquis, Times Square
- 5:30 pm: VIP Reception
- 6:00 pm: General Reception
- 7:00 pm: Program, Dinner, and Live Auction
2016 Gala Co-Chairs
Wanda Bryant Hope, Chief Diversity Officer, Johnson & Johnson and Apoorva Gandhi, Vice President, Multicultural Affairs, Marriott International, PFLAG National Business Advisory Board
The 2016 Straight for Equality Gala will emceed by actor and comedian Alec Mapa and include a performance from the hit Broadway show FUN HOME! We will also be joined by special guests Richard G. Ketchum, Chairman and CEO of FINRA, Dale Bernstein, PFLAG National Board Member and founder of UnCommon Human Resources, and Rosie O’Donnell.