By Seán McCarthy
New York City, NY (The Hollywood Times) 1/30/17 – From the pitch of dark that threatens to engulf, blight and suffocate this country’s spirit of long-and-hard-fought-for human rights, brightly lit beacons glowing with a promise of hope have emerged to take a vital public stand against a now disturbingly visceral wave of venom-riddled racism, bigotry and pig-ignorant discrimination in this the Age of Anxiety.
The Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) civil rights organization, has announced that the groundbreaking film Moonlight directed by Barry Jenkins, critically acclaimed multi-award-winning actress Meryl Streep, and comedian Seth Meyers will, all three, be honored at the 2017 HRC Greater New York Gala on Saturday February 11th 2017 at the Waldorf Astoria in New York City at this celebrated annual event raising crucial funds in the fight for full LGBTQ equality.
With eight Academy Award nominations including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Adapted Screenplay, the film Moonlight starring Jaden Pinar, Jharrel Jerome, Alex R. Hibbert, Trevante Rhodes, André Holland, Janelle Monáe, Ashton Sanders, Naomie Harris, and Mahershala Ali tells a timeless story of human self-discovery and connection as it chronicles the life of a young gay black man from childhood to adulthood struggling to find his place in the world while growing up in a rough neighborhood of Miami.
Moonlight is inspired by the play In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue by Tarell Alvin McCraney, who will accept the award on behalf of the film. “I think it’s important people see themselves in film, but it’s even more important they see people they maybe don’t know as well,” says the film’s screenwriter and director Barry Jenkins who, together with McCraney, recently sat down with The Human Rights Campaign to discuss their film and the issues of bullying and masculinity.
“Moonlight has captured the hearts and minds of audiences across the country,” said HRC President Chad Griffin. “The film triumphs in its portrayal of the struggles that many in this country face every day because of discriminatory barriers that still exist, especially if you’re young, African American, and LGBTQ. We are proud to recognize the brilliance of Moonlight with the HRC Visionary Arts Award and welcome playwright Tarell Alvin McCraney to accept the award.”
Also to be honored at this year’s Gala with the HRC National Ally for Equality Award is critically-acclaimed three-time Academy Award winning actress and LGBTQ champion Meryl Streep. An outspoken advocate for LGBTQ equality, Streep credits childhood music teachers for helping to open her eyes to LGBTQ acceptance, including her gay piano teacher and his partner, and another transgender music teacher. “I just can’t remember when LGBT people were not in my life,” Streep said an in interview.
When accepting the honorary Cecil B. deMille Award at this year’s 2017 Golden Globes, the actress spared no time lambasting an outrageous moment of blatant discrimination that came last year from an election campaigner who now covets the highest seat of power in our land.
“It was that moment when the person asking to sit in the most respected seat in our country imitated a disabled reporter. Someone he outranked in privilege, power and the capacity to fight back,” a solitary Streep said from the stage out to a stunned watching world. “It kind of broke my heart when I saw it, and I still can’t get it of out my head, because it wasn’t in a movie. It was real life. And this instinct to humiliate, when it’s modeled by someone in the public platform, by someone powerful, it filters down into everybody’s life, because it kinda gives permission for other people to do the same thing.”
It is expected to be a remarkable evening as Moonlight, Seth Meyers and Meryl Streep receive their well-deserved awards at this year’s 2017 Greater New York Gala, one of HRC’s highly prestigious annual events attracting more than 1,000 of the organization’s most active leaders, supporters, and members.
The HRC GNY Gala regularly draws political officials from federal, state, and local governments, as well as celebrity entertainers and leaders in the business community. Notably, this year’s Gala will be the last public event to be held inside the historic Waldorf Astoria grand ballroom before the final closure of its doors to the public.