The worlds of musical theater and politics will come together in celebration of the LGBTQ community next month in New York.
The Human Rights Campaign announced Tuesday it would honor Tony-, Grammy- and Emmy-winning singer-actress Audra McDonald with this year’s National Equality Award, in recognition of her “outstanding efforts in standing up” for queer rights, at the 2018 HRC Greater New York Gala.
HRC’s President Chad Griffin praised McDonald for not only “captivating and inspiring audiences around the globe in a truly profound way,” but also using “her incredible talent to help make the world a better place by speaking out for the vulnerable and the oppressed.”
Slated to speak at the Feb. 3 event in New York is Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.). The organization chose the senator as a speaker, Griffin said, because she has been “on the front lines” in terms of resisting the Trump administration’s anti-LGBTQ agenda.
“From fighting back against Trump’s transgender military ban to pushing for LGBTQ non-discrimination protections, Sen. Gillibrand stands shoulder to shoulder with the LGBTQ community as a champion of equality,” he added.
McDonald has been an outspoken LGBTQ rights advocate for years. In 2015, the Broadway icon railed against then-Indiana Gov. Mike Pence’s controversial Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which allowed business owners to cite religious beliefs as a reason to discriminate against customers.
“Some of the closest people to me ... are LGBTQ. I have family members that are LGBTQ. That they don’t have the same rights that I do is heartbreaking to me, and wrong,” she told Variety last year. “I just feel it in the very core of my being, the injustice ... I can’t be silent. These are my friends. These are my family.”
The 2018 HRC Greater New York Gala will be held Feb. 3.