On Wednesday, September 2, performing activist and Broadway deity André De Shields takes to the screen to host PFLAG National’s annual “Moving Equality Forward” event, this year to be held virtually due to the pandemic. The Tony, Emmy and Grammy Award® winning actor is just one of many luminaries participating in this special ticketed event which will honor Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi with the 2020 PFLAG National Champion of Justice Award.
“It is an immense honor to accept the 2020 PFLAG National Champion of Justice Award,” said House Speaker Pelosi. “As the representative from San Francisco, I am proud of the work that PFLAG San Francisco has done to strengthen our city through its committed advocacy and education for over 30 years.”
The PFLAG National Champion of Justice Award recognizes an elected official who champions fairness, equality, and justice for all people in the U.S. and around the world, through the power of their elected office and as a community influencer. Past honorees include civil rights legend, the late Rep. John R. Lewis, Sen. Tammy Baldwin (WI), former Rep. Barney Frank, and Colorado Governor Jared Polis.
“Speaker Pelosi has demonstrated in no uncertain terms that she is a champion of justice, beginning with her first House floor speech in 1987, when she stated definitively that she had come to Congress to fight AIDS. As an HIV-positive person myself, her words and her passion resonate,” said Brian K. Bond, Executive Director of PFLAG National. “As the first woman to serve as Speaker of the House, Speaker Pelosi has made history, deftly moving more than 500 bills through the House this session, including most notably the Equality Act and a resolution in support of military servicemembers who are transgender. Her tireless work on behalf of LGBTQ+ people, our families, workplaces, and communities is why PFLAG National is proud to honor Speaker Nancy Pelosi as our 2020 Champion of Justice.”
Wednesday’s event supports PFLAG Connects, a program that helps PFLAG chapters meet the needs of their communities virtually with online meetings, tools, and learning sessions. “In this era of physical distancing and facial costumes, we all must understand and respond to the need for exceptional collaboration and coexistence. We must remember that, during this precedent setting intersection of historic reckoning and cultural transformation, human evolution moves forward, not in reverse,” said the event’s Tony Award® winning host De Shields. “I am immensely grateful that PFLAG has asked me to join the parents, families, friends and allies of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer plus community in the making of a New World, a Better World, a More Empathetic World, where walking in the shoes of a fellow citizen is considered a treat, not a threat.”
Other honored guests include Sen. Tammy Baldwin (WI), Co-Chairs of the LGBTQ+ Equality Caucus Chairman of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Rep. Mark Takano (CA-41) and Rep. Sharice Davids (KS-3), and Equality Caucus Vice Chairs Rep. Deb Haaland (NM-1) and Rep. Barbara Lee (CA-13). Each of these key federal lawmakers have worked to move equality forward in all of their work.
“When I meet with PFLAG members, I know they understand that the cost of inequality is a great burden on all of us, and that we can do better. Together, we must continue on our march toward full equality so all people have a chance at the American dream. The House passed the bipartisan Equality Act over a year ago. — It’s past time for Mitch McConnell to bring it for a vote in the Senate so we can get it done and finally provide full equality for every LGBTQ American across our country,” said Sen. Baldwin, who co-founded the LGBT Equality Caucus as the first openly gay person to be elected to Congress.
The first two Native American women elected to Congress are both members of the LGBTQ+ Equality Caucus. Rep. Davids, who is also the first openly lesbian person elected to serve her district, has sponsored or co-sponsored more than 50 pieces of legislation, the plurality of which aim to achieve social justice, especially for women, LGBTQ+ people, and people of color. “Since our nation’s founding, we have struggled to realize our highest ideals. The health crisis has brought many longstanding issues to the forefront again – including inequity and systemic injustices. We have to commit to an inclusive recovery so everyone can get ahead,” said Rep. Davids.
Rep. Haaland, whose daughter identifies as queer, recently introduced the “Anthony Gonzales Equality for Survivors (AGES) Act” (H.R.7209) to ensure married LGBTQ+ couples receive the same Social Security benefits as all couples. Of her work to achieve justice and equality, Rep. Haaland said, “I am your ally fighting for equality in Congress, for my daughter, and for LGBTQ people.”
Long-time LGBTQ+ community ally Rep. Lee began her legislative career by sponsoring bills to reduce hate crimes and to fund AIDS and HIV education, research, and prevention programs. Rep. Lee recently introduced the “REPEAL HIV Discrimination Act” (H.R.6054) and the gender and sexual orientation-affirming “Real Education for Healthy Youth Act” (H.R.2720). “We must embrace the certainty that love is love and that no one should have to hide their true self,” said Rep. Lee. “As a founding member and Vice-Chair of the Congressional Equality Caucus, I will continue to press for legislation that respects the love and dignity of all people.”
As the first openly gay person of color elected to Congress, Chairman Takano recognizes his unique position in elevating equality and seeking justice for vulnerable minorities. He said, “All people, regardless of their gender identity or sexual orientation, deserve full equality under the law. The historic passage of the Equality Act in the House is proof of the progress we have made as a country toward acceptance of LGBTQ+ people. We are finally one step closer to fulfilling the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for every American.”
The event will broadcast live to ticket holders on Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2020 beginning at 6:30 p.m. EDT. Tickets for individuals are $35 and can be purchased at pflag.org/mef2020. Sponsors of “Moving Equality Forward” include the David Bohnett Foundation (Gold); American Federation of Teachers (Silver); Credit Suisse, Georgetown Public Affairs, Ingredion (Bronze); Graying Rainbows, Mida Associates, and RenewPR (Host); and Chambord (Beverage Sponsor). The event is produced by Rick Fowler, Mida Associates and will feature a cocktail demonstration by mixologist Gianna Burns of the award-winning cocktail bar Trick Dog in San Francisco.
ABOUT PFLAG National:
PFLAG National is the first and largest organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ+) people, their parents and families, and allies. With over 400 chapters and 200,000 members and supporters crossing multiple generations of families in major urban centers, small cities, and rural areas across America, PFLAG is committed to creating a world where diversity is celebrated and all people are respected, valued, and affirmed. To learn more, visit pflag.org, like us on Facebook (/pflag), or follow us on Twitter (@pflag) or Instagram (@pflag).
Lia Chang is an actor, a multi-media content producer and co-founder of Bev’s Girl Films, making films that foster inclusion and diversity on both sides of the camera. Bev’s Girl Films’ debut short film, Hide and Seek was a top ten film in the Asian American Film Lab’s 2015 72 Hour Shootout Filmmaking Competition, and she received a Best Actress nomination. BGF collaborates with and produces multi-media content for artists, actors, designers, theatrical productions, composers, musicians and corporations. Lia has appeared in the films Wolf, New Jack City, A Kiss Before Dying, King of New York, Big Trouble in Little China, The Last Dragon, Taxman. She stars in and served as Executive Producer for the short independent films Hide and Seek, Balancing Act, Rom-Com Gone Wrong, Belongingness and When the World was Young. She is also the Executive Producer for The Cactus, The Language Lesson, The Writer and Cream and 2 Shugahs. The Lia Chang theater portfolio collection,1989-2011, is in the Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) collection located in the Library of Congress’ Asian Reading Room and can be accessed here.
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