GMHC Howard Ashman Award and Cabaret

Monday night's Howard Ashman Award and Cabaret to benefit Gay Mens Health Crisis was, in a word, incredible.  The performances were stunning and the emotions and love in the room - for both Howard and Terrance McNally, this year's award recipient, will be long remembered. I thought I'd share with you the little speech I gave, speaking for both Bill and myself:

"We are absolutely sure that Howard would be embarrassed to have an award, any award named for him.  But we’re equally sure that he would be happy to lend his name and support to Gay Men’s Health Crisis.  GMHC has played a vital role in our nation’s health — our entire nation of straight, gay, bisexual, transgender and lesbian Americans has much reason to thank this organization.  For over 30 years, GMHC has brought a wide array of services to those in need, and we’re deeply moved to know that this event will help ensure that those services continue.

We are thrilled that Terrence McNally is receiving the Howard Ashman Award this year.  Mr. McNally’s groundbreaking and moving work helped bring the issues of gay rights and HIV/AIDS into the national conversation.  He continues to entertain, move and amuse us — forcing audiences to confront the realities of loss, never allowing us to look past the faces of people affected by HIV/AIDS.  And he keeps the conversation going with a steely focus and gentle hand that leaves us in awe.

Recently, we received an interesting question on Howard’s website.  A young woman asked why Howard never had children. What surprised us was that this woman took it for granted that Howard, as a gay man, could have had children if he had so chosen.

Born in 1990, she had no real idea of the early struggles of gay men and lesbians.  Nor, we have a feeling, did she have any understanding of the true devastation of an AIDS diagnosis before the days of cocktails and managing the disease.  Her naivety was kind of great — born, as it was, of living in a world so much more open than the one Howard grew up in.  But, it also reminded us that we must never forget the early days before Gay Pride and the early horrors of HIV/AIDS.  To forget is to slip backward.

Terrance McNally never lets us forget.  Nor does GMHC.

We are honored and grateful that Howard is being remembered and celebrated with this award and cabaret."