By Michael Fairman
The most important organization and resource out there right now for LGBTQ youth, The Trevor Project certainly knows how to deliver a balance of entertainment, emotional wallop, getting out their key messages and bringing together some of the best Hollywood has to offer in a dazzling array of support at their annual Trevor Live! event.
Each year, Trevor’s presence grows and grows, and at this year’s fundraising and awareness bash held at the Hollywood Palladium, the leading suicide-prevention and crisis-intervention LGBTQ youth organization offered up hope, compassion, love and fun to a packed-house, and for the first time even streamed their red carpet arrivals on the web! So now, no matter where you were, you could be a part of Trevor!
When the show kicked off, it was Parks and Recreations and SNL fave Amy Poehler, as the voice of God—never seen, but always heard—who emceed the night, bringing spontaneity galore and a host of well-known presenters with her from above. The wizard behind the curtain, Adam Shankman (Trevor Live’s musical director) planned a night of song performances by gay songwriters ranging from Stephen Sondheim to Elton John.
The New Normal’s Andrew Rannells kicked off the performances with “I Am What I Am” from La Cage Aux Folles. Sarah Bareilles took to the piano to perform her haunting hit, “Gravity." American Idol runner-up Jessica Sanchez sang Christina Aguilera’s “Beautiful” backed by an amazing choir, and returned to end the evening with Dreamgirls staple, “I Am Telling You, I’m Not Going." One Republic’s Ryan Tedder performed, as did Broadway and television star Betty Buckley, who wowed the audience with “Got To Find My Corner” from Pippin.
The amazing voice of Laura Benanti, currently starring with Matthew Perry on TV’s Go On, brought chills to the audience with her rendition of “Children Will Listen” from Into the Woods, backed by, that once again, touching choir. Benanti returned for a comedic musical piece about marriage featuring Modern Family’s Jesse Tyler Ferguson and NCIS’ Barrett Foa. Perhaps the biggest showstopper of the evening was when fan-favorite Kristin Chenoweth did a surprising duet with film star Anna Kendrick of “Because I Knew You” from Wicked.
Glee was well represented, too! The television show about diversity of all shapes, sizes and rainbows brought out the talents of Matthew Morrison, who sang an Elton John medley of “Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters” and “Rocket Man.” Naya Rivera got attendees in the holiday mood when she sang “Silent Night," and Darren Criss, setting up the introduction of Trevor Hero Award honoree Katy Perry, performed his own rendition of her hit, “This is a Part of Me.”
Actor Zachary Quinto, who has come to work as a volunteer and admire Trevor’s mission, had this to say in a memorable speech to the audience: “Before I came out publicly in the fall of last year, I was a longtime supporter of The Trevor Project from afar. After I made the decision that I wanted to become more of an immediate part of my community, it was a profound moment of my life. The Trevor team has such tremendous capacity for caring, compassion and respect … not only for the callers, but for each other. The Trevor Project is the singular leading resource and an organization that has been recognized nationally for its programs. Your support makes the difference of young lives in unbearable pain. So that anytime a young person feels so alone that taking their own lives they feel is their only option, Trevor can be there to make a difference.”
Trevor Project volunteer Arutyan Ambartsumyam shared some very personal moments that is at the crux of what Trevor’s Lifeline is all about. “It is incredibly hard when young people have shared with me that they had been rejected by their family, or kicked out of their home and could not go to school, and told me about their depression and sadness and wanting to take their own life. I had to take a deep breath before I responded to them, because that was my story too.”
As the evening came to a close, it was finally time for global pop sensation Katy Perry to receive the highest honor Trevor can bestow upon an individual, The Trevor Hero Award. Past recipients have included Lady Gaga, Neil Patrick Harris and Susan Sarandon, to name a few. Adam Shankman had the honors of bringing Perry to the stage, citing, “The Trevor Hero Award is given for an individual who empowers youth and who increases the visibility and the understanding of the LGBTQ community. As an ally, Katy Perry has supported equality. Through her video Firework she inspires LGBT youth to find their spark. And, in all things Katie does, she strives to let young people know that they have value.”
Next, Perry took to the stage to a standing ovation to receive her honor and revealed how profound her journey has been, and how touched she has been by the work of The Trevor Project. It was a fitting ending to memorable evening. Katy related, “I think we all know the real heroes are the folks at the call center. As much as I wish we didn’t have to, they are there—day in and day out—reminding people that there is value in staying. The organization has educated me so much. I grew up in a very intolerant environment. For a long time I was told that people who were lesbian, gay or transgender or questioning were an abomination. But when I started to ask questions, it was hard to make sense of the bubble around me. I am all grown up now and have freed myself from that mindset. Coming from where I came from, I would never have thought that the LGBTQ community would be so interwoven into my everyday life.
"I hope in the future we will all be able to grow beyond labels. I hope all the LGBTQ youth know they are as valuable as anyone else. And, they are amazing and unique and make the world a more vibrant place. My mantra has been: ‘Be yourself enough, and you can be anything.’ I’m so proud to be honored by an organization that believes the same exact thing, and I’m so active in reminding LGBTQ young people about it. I’m looking forward to working more closely with The Trevor Project in years to come, and I thank you all for this award and for educating me, so that I can educate others.”
Frontiers correspondent Michael Fairman was on the red carpet! Watch the video below to see some of our entertaining and moving interviews from Trevor Live 2012:
Watch Katy Perry's acceptance speech:
Visit thetrevorproject.org for more information. Photo by Getty Images.