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Ryan Murphy Gives Moving Speech About the Power of TV to Change Families

Glee Cast at Family Equality Council Awards

Photo: Getty

Los Angeles’ best, brightest, and, well, gayest gathered at the Beverly Hilton on Saturday to dole out honors from the Family Equality Council, who fight to establish and protect the rights of LGBTQ families.The highly emotional moments celebrated Annise Parker, the first LGBTQ mayor of Houston, and featured speeches from gay parents denied adoption rights. On the brand side, Andrew Rannells honored Honeymaid for their “This is Wholesome” campaign that both featured gay days among their diversity of families in an original ad, and found a positive way to make use of all the negative (and 10 time as many positive) comments they received after the original ad airing. 

While guests bid on a chance to join Lady Gaga on the set of the next American Horror Story, the event also honored Glee and Modern Family, two shows that both premiered in 2009 and have helped move the needle on gay rights in America by normalizing gay families straight into the viewing audiences’ living rooms.

“Thank you for deciding to honor us before Empire premiered,” joked Modern Family co-creator Steve Levitan, before getting serious. “We’ve heard from so many gay teens and young adults who felt comfortable about coming out simply because their parents love Mitch and Cam. We are very proud to be on the right side of history and ot have played even a tiny role in the honorable task about getting some closed-minded assholes to shut the fuck up.”

SLIDESHOW | STARS TURN OUT for FAMILY EQUALITY COUNCIL

The night closed with several Glee cast members gathered for what is being called their last live performance ever — although we err towards host Sandra Bernhard’s assessment: “Why do I not believe that? They’ll drag that shit out again...”

The medley opened with Alex Newell walking the crowd and belting and “I Will Survive/Survivor” mashup that had the crowd on to their feet. The disco theme continued with “Dancing Queen,” and then the gang — which included Lea Michele, Chord Overstreet, Jenna Ushkowitz, and Darren Criss — finished it off with “Don’t Stop Believin.” They may have been light on choreography, but attendees dancing in the aisles made up for it.

Ryan Murphy, the show’s co-creator, gave a moving speech about the impact of both shows:

“I have always believed in the ideology of one of my friends and idols, Norman Lear, that the way to acceptance is understanding,” Murphy said while accepting his award. “You have to see it, experience it in your own house and life to empathize. I think the success of Glee and Modern Family brought gay kids and gay families to millions of people who think they didn’t know those kinds of people, and then suddenly, literally in the course of one month, they did. To me that is the great legacy of these shows and is why public opinion, I think, of what makes an American family has changed so radically, so quickly. I have been told that seven years ago before Glee and Modern Family and Transparent and Orange Is the New Black, one poll showed that only 18 percent of people believed that a gay, or nontraditional family, was entitled to equal rights. Today that number is around 52 percent. It is a great change, a great victory in a shockingly short amount of time, but there is more work to be done.”

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