The Gay Oscars – The Out in the City and G3 Readers’ Awards

Stuart Forward

Recent graduate living in Leeds. Lover of the Caribbean, obscure books, beer and things people don't give a toss about. Aspiring publisher. Wannabe Belgian. @StuForward

Friday night saw the world of celebrity, glitz and LGBTQ awareness come together at the Landmark Hotel, London, as Out in the City and G3 celebrated their second annual readers’ awards, popularly dubbed “the Gay Oscars”.

Both myself and Vada‘s Deputy Editor, Roy Ward, were lucky enough to be invited to attend the ceremony that brought together the most worthy voices of LGBTQ progress and visibility over the past year.

In a year that has seen the adoption of Equal Marriage, poignant social campaigns, an increasing LGBTQ prominence in cultural and political debates, and a certain Mr Daley coming out in support of the cause, the night provided a glitzy and necessary point at which to celebrate individual and community achievements in the LGBTQ world.

As a spokesman from the Peter Tatchell Foundation opened the night by speaking of the ongoing need to combat transphobia and homophobia around the world, it was a moment to reflect on the security that many of the audience enjoyed, and the ease with which they could come to such a LGBTQ event openly, in contrast to the LGBTQ experience of many around the world who live in a much less supportive, and in many instances hostile, environment. The PT Foundation, for which the awards came out in fundraising support of, reminded the audience of the pride we can feel in achievements to date, yet the urge we should follow through with to rid the world of all forms of hate. You can donate and support the organisation’s work here.

In a sea of LGBTQ celebrity, both past and present, we managed to contain ourselves with only the odd squeal of excitement escaping every time Cilla Black’s sparkly torso bobbed into sight, and odd moments of awe-basking as we stood slyly next to Owen Jones. The high profile turn-out that saw Paul O’Grady, Joey Barton, Gareth Thomas, Peter Tatchell, Denise Welsh, Graham Norton, Sinitta, Bisi Alimi, Angela Eagle, Jane Hill, Lucy Spraggan, the stars of TOWIE, and a brief cameo from Christopher Maloney, spoke to the real support the awards enjoyed across the spectrum of the LGBTQ community and beyond.

One moment that broke through our playing-it-cool exterior in terms of celebrity (apart from bumping into Peter Tatchell on the night bus) came when April Ashley entered the room and sat 3 metres away from us. April is one of the first people to ever go through gender reassignment in the UK, before pursuing a successful modelling career, and whose life is now the subject of the April Ashley: Portrait of a Lady exhibition run through Homotopia in Liverpool. She is a truly remarkable woman and told us about hanging out with Kenneth Williams, the time when Barbara Windsor introduced her to the Kray twins, and being mistaken for the Queen in her local Tesco. I have never seen Roy so content.

april-ashley

The night, hosted by Coronation Street star Charlie Condou and actress Sophie Ward, sought to celebrate the community in a whole range of categories that cover the lives and interests of the magazines’ readers and the wider LGBTQ community. A full list of awards and winners can be found here, but particular highlights came in the marking of charitable efforts, the crowning of the “straight allies”, the celebration of the broadcasters and celebrities of the year, and the final lifetime achievement awards.

In a new addition to the awards programme, this year saw the inclusion of the “straight ally” award which was deservedly given to Joey Barton for his work in tackling homophobia in football. Despite a questionable personal track-record that some critics have cited, Barton’s efforts in support of Stonewall and Paddy Power’s rainbow laces initiative formed a real landmark in LGBTQ visibility in sport, and proved him a just recipient of the award.

Broadcasters of the year went to Jane Hill and Graham Norton, while Heather Peace and Paul O’Grady scooped the celebrities of the year title. Paul stole the show with his acceptance speech that put Cilla right at centre stage for good and bad reasons, before the night was rounded up with the Lifetime Achievement titles being endowed to Holly Johnson and Angela Eagle MP.

The night as a whole left me with a few main thoughts as to the current status of LGBTQ visibility and community across the nation. Primarily, why are there so many powerful LGBTQ scousers? But really, the Out in the City and G3 Readers’ Awards provided a truly poignant moment for celebrities, charities and individuals to come out and embrace their true identity. The moments that really hit home as to how far LGBTQ progress has come were the tender moments of acceptance where celebrities and winners thanked their same-sex husbands, wives and life partners without fear of gasps, critique or scandal. It was just very natural.

The most heart-warming moment came away from the spotlight as Angela Eagle MP received a tender hug and a kiss from her wife following her victory. It was a moment of affection, ease and openness that unfortunately seems quite alien to any other mainstream awards ceremony. The Gay Oscars for this reason are truly something else. Long live the Gay Oscars.

 

Headline image: www.chrisjepson.com