Daryl Roth, Edie Windsor & Daniel Pearle Honored at PFLAG's NYC Gala Today
PFLAG NYC (Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays of New York City) recently announced that Broadway producer, Daryl Roth, who has mounted a record seven Pulitzer Prize-winning plays and multiple Tony Award-winning shows, and Edie Windsor, the brave and outspoken plaintiff in United States v. Windsor, which brought federal recognition of same-sex marriage will be featured honorees at tonight's 40th Anniversary PFLAG NYC Awards Dinner.
Ms. Roth will receive the PFLAG NYC "Stay Close" Family Leadership Award in recognition of her prominent role in the successful 2011 campaign for marriage equality in New York state. "I wanted my son to have the same rights and opportunities for happiness as everyone else," she said. "I was proud to be able to help." Many of Ms. Roth's productions have focused on themes deeply meaningful to the LGBT community, including The Normal Heart, The Temperamentals, and this year's Tony Award-winning best musical, Kinky Boots.
Ms. Windsor, who successfully fought the government for equal recognition of her marriage to Thea Spyer, her partner of more than 40 years, after being assessed estate taxes after Thea's death, will receive the PFLAG NYC "Stay Close" Individual Leadership Award. "If Thea was Theo, I would not have had to pay those taxes. It was heartbreaking. It was a terrible injustice, and I didn't expect that from my country," explained Edie. In June, the Supreme Court declared the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) to be unconstitutional, thereby requiring the federal government to recognize same-sex marriages. As strong as the logic and facts of Edie's case were, it was the personal story of Thea and her life together that helped people truly understand and helped shift public opinion in favor of marriage equality.
A third award will go to Daniel Pearle, playwright of A Kid Like Jake, a powerful play that ran at Lincoln Center earlier this year. The play touches on the struggle of two parents to address their child's gender variance, a theme that resonates with many parents. PFLAG NYC support groups today receive many families with children who are transgender or show gender variant behavior. Mr. Pearle's play, which won the Laurents/Hatcher Award for new playwrights, shows two parents' struggle over loving their child and not wanting to stifle him, yet not wanting him to be disadvantaged in a society that does not understand.
David Hyde Pierce, star of television's Frasier and leading Broadway and off -Broadway actor will serve as Master of Ceremonies for the evening. Mr. Pierce received a nomination for Best Actor in a Play for his recent role in Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike and is starring in John Kander's The Landing, opening this month at the Vineyard Theater.
Two songs from the upcoming Broadway musical It Shoulda Been You, directed by Mr. Pierce and written by his husband, Brian Hargrove, andBarbara Anselmi, will be performed at the event by Broadway starts Harriet Harris and Sierra Boggess.
The beneficiary of the evening, PFLAG NYC, is celebrating the 40th anniversary of the founding of Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, the largest organization of families and allies of LGBT people. In recent years, the Safe Schools Program of PFLAG NYC has been working with many of New York City's public and private schools to fight bullying and increase understanding of LGBT people, utilizing the "storytelling" technique that has helped so many parents who have attended PFLAG support groups over the years. "When the kids hear a parent tell his or her story about their child coming out, and then an LGBT person shares their story, it is a spark for understanding," explained Diane Coughlin, chairperson of the Safe Schools Program. "They ask questions, they often talk about having an LGBT brother or cousin or aunt or uncle, something they've never talked about before. The principals and teachers tell us that our program changes the climate in their school."
Major corporations help support the work of PFLAG NYC in the schools, directly helping keep families together when a young person comes out as LGBT. JetBlue, New York's hometown airline, is the Platinum Sponsor of the dinner for the eighth consecutive year. MetLife, the National Basketball Association, and Daryl Roth Productions are also sponsors.
Photo by Peter James Zielinski