Logo established the annual Trailblazers Honors three years ago, honoring today’s most prolific LGBTQ advocates of equality. The show quickly established itself as a leading awards gala, and the 2016 version will be bigger and better than ever. As an official event of New York City Pride, VH1 and Logo will simulcast the pride event on Saturday, June 25 at 8pm ET/PT, from the Cathedral of St. John the Divine.
The evening is dedicated to the lives lost to the Orlando massacre.
This year’s honorees are longtime contributors to the cause: playwright Harvey Fierstein, tennis champion Billy Jean King, and The Advocate magazine, which next year celebrates its half century mark. That’s right, the big 5-0.
A star-studded cast will pay homage to this year’s winners, including Emma Stone, who will present an award to Billy Jean King, Lance Bass, presenting to The Advocate. Video tributes by Laverne Cox, Judith Light, Matthew Broderick, Bernadette Peters, Billy Porter, Edie Falco, Joel Grey, Tegan & Sara, Matthew Morrison, Jason Collins, Troye Sivan, and Cheyenne Jackson.
Tune in for a look at our visionary leaders for inspiration in a difficult time:
Harvey Fierstein has knocked down barriers not just in Broadway but in Hollywood. In 1982, Fierstein wrote and starred in “Torch Song Trilogy,” for which he won his first two of four Tony Awards. The play became a hit movie, starring Fierstein and Matthew Broderick. Fierstein went on to churn out the hits “La Cage aux Folles,” “Kinky Boots,” and “Casa Valentina.”
Fierstein also starred as an actor in multiple movies, including “Mrs. Doubtfire” and “Independence Day,” as well in guest appearances on television shows such as “Nurse Jackie.” (Fierstein will reprise his iconic role of Edna Turnblad in NBC’s upcoming television special “Hairspray Live!”) Most recently, Fierstein and his “Kinky Boots” co-writer Cyndi Lauper rewrote the lyrics to the show’s finale song “Just Be” to speak out against anti-LGBT laws in North Carolina and other states. The video for the revised song, “Just Pee,” has been viewed over 8.5M times.
“In prep for this lovely honor, Logo sent me a bio they’d put together of my accomplishments. YIKES! It looks like I’ve done a lot but, truthfully, none of it was done alone,” Fierstein says. “There’s been an unseen army of contemporaries and pioneers who’ve come before me that has made everything I’ve achieved possible. I hope, by accepting this honor from Logo, that I am helping to celebrate our entire community of LGBT warriors.”
Billy Jean King
Billie Jean King is not only one of the first prominent professional athletes to be openly lesbian. She is renowned as the greatest to ever play the game. King won 39 Grand Slam singles, doubles and mixed doubles titles and her work to open doors for women and LGBT people made and changed history. In 1972, she became the first woman to be named Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year and was inducted to the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1987.
In 2014, President Obama selected Billie Jean King to be a part of the US Delegation to the Sochi Winter Olympics, where she used the platform to speak out against anti-LGBT laws in Russia. She has been a staunch supporter of the Elton John AIDS Foundation and the Billie Jean King Leadership Initiative to inspire a new generation of leaders. In 2009, she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest award that can be given to a civilian in the United States, for her work to advocate for equality for women and LGBT people.
The Advocate launched as a newsletter in 1967, following America’s first known riot protesting harassment at the Black Cat Tavern in Los Angeles. That year–two and a half years before Stonewall–the broadsheet’s purpose was to inform gay men and lesbians of the dangers of police raids while educating them about their legal recourse. The Advocate quickly blossomed into the periodical of record with a team of experienced journalists doing award winning journalism awards at a time when the mainstream media largely ignored or denigrated all things LGBTQ. During the AIDS pandemic editors worked tirelessly to convince gay and non-gay celebrities to use the magazine as a vehicle to champion a community readership that one former Editor-In-Chief says was, “Choking on the self-hate most straight institutions were spewing at them about AIDS.”
In the early 90s and 2000s, the glossy mag conducted coming out interviews with k.d. lang, George Michael, Chaz Bono and Melissa Etheridge at at time when it was still an act of remarkable courage and sometimes even sacrifice. It also conducted the first live interview with a sitting president, questioning President Clinton on Air Force One.
“We are so excited to accept this award for The Advocate‘s five decades of journalism on behalf of the LGBT community,” says Matthew Breen, editor-in-chief of The Advocate. “It is a profound responsibility to chronicle our triumphs and tragedies, victories and defeats. And we strive to do it with the integrity shown to us by previous generations of brave editors, reporters, photographers, and publishers, who proved to the world that our stories must be told.”