Thanksgiving may still be a week away, but the mood at the 17th annual "Out 100" party -- Out Magazine's end-of-year celebration of influential lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people and community allies -- felt a lot more like New Year's Eve.
Indeed, many of the attending stars and personalities who strolled the red carpet inside Manhattan's Skylight SOHO were feeling appropriately sentimental as they looked back on a year which saw both the advent of marriage equality in New York and the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" nationwide.
"We had our work cut out for us," Kathy Griffin, named Out's "Entertainer of the Year," said of 2011. "Now our next job is the repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act...that's going to be the next frontier. Separate but equal is not equal." True to form, the Emmy Award-winning comedian and outspoken LGBT rights advocate couldn't resist a quip against both Kim Kardashian and Demi Moore, who filed for divorce from Ashton Kutcher earlier that day. "It strengthens my stance against heterosexual marriage," she said with a laugh.
The rest of the party seemed to push the calendar even further ahead, with bouquets of red roses adorning tabletops and an adjacent candy shop dispensing red lollipops, jellybeans and Valentine's Day-like candy hearts. Given that many of the evening's honorees -- including "Modern Family" star Jesse Tyler Ferguson (named "Artist of the Year") and "American Idol" alum Adam Lambert -- huddled close to their respective partners for much of the evening, love was certainly in the air. Others, like Bravo TV executive Andy Cohen, seemed inspired to ramp up their pursuit of finding it: "Now I've got to find someone to marry me -- maybe tonight!"
Though he's been outspoken about the struggles he's faced in his own relationship with the LGBT community, Lambert said he was impressed by the overall diversity, not just among the crowd but within popular culture as a whole. "I think that we're being represented in much more diverse ways, which I think is very important in trying to help people understand what it is to be a part of the gay community," said Lambert. "I'm just really excited to see the visibility increase in the media especially."
Other allies saw the event as a time to re-affirm their commitment to LGBT causes, particularly anti-gay bullying among youth. "Homophobia in sports is so pervasive -- if you ask any high school kid where the unsafe spaces are, they'll say the locker room," said Athlete Ally founder and Columbia University wrestling coach Hudson Taylor. "The teachers aren't going to change that, the organizations aren't going to change that, it's going to start with getting the athletes on board to be vocal allies. My basic message is about respect."
View photos from the party below: