By: Brandy Black
I had the pleasure of attending “Cracked Christmas 12” presented by The Trevor Project at the Wiltern Theatre the other night. It was quite the fabulous event with the red carpet welcoming celebs; Neal Patrick Harris, Jesse Ferguson (Modern Family) and Jason Segel, to name a few. I went for an evening of “irreverent comedy, music and awards” and got so much more.
The show kicked off with a song from the Gay Man’s Choir Los Angeles and a peppy dance number. I sipped my champagne and tapped my feet as the men sang “What is wrong with being yourself”. There were many guest star appearances throughout the show and some very funny comedians. Carol Leifer spoke- remember her? -she wrote for that funny show, way back when, called Seinfeld! A very entertaining woman as always, she kept the handsome crowd laughing while telling her “coming out” story. She explained that she didn’t know she was gay until she was 40; now she’s been with her partner for 13 years and they recently adopted a little boy from Guatemala.
“He’s very lucky” she says, “He’s got two Jewish moms. We bought him a toy phone but does he ever call (in a nasal high-pitched voice)?”
The show delivered what it promised and kept everyone laughing until the “true” stories began to unfold throughout the evening. There was a touching moment when a mom explained that her gay son had committed suicide in February of this year. He had come out to her and she was in full support of him but “her love and acceptance was not enough.” He was seeking the very same from the rest of the world and ended his life. She went on to explain that 95% of all suicides can be prevented and that we all have the power to save a life. The words of this lovely mom that had the courage to stand on that stage the year her son had taken his own life, shot through my heart. She celebrated almost all of her “firsts” this year. Her first birthday without her son, his first birthday, her first Thanksgiving, and now her first Christmas this month, it was a painful reminder of how vulnerable we all are. Sitting in that audience as a parent, not even being able to comprehend how she must feel, made me realize the absolute necessity of The Trevor Project.
The Trevor Project was founded by James Lecense, Peggy Rajski and Randy Stone, creators of the 1994 Academy Award-winning short film Trevor- a story of a 13 year old gay boy who, when rejected by his friends because of his sexuality, makes an attempt to take his own life. When the movie was scheduled to air on HBO in 1998, the filmmakers realized that some of the program’s young viewers might be facing the same crisis as Trevor so they began to search for a helpline to broadcast during the airing. They discovered that no such helpline existed and so they dedicated themselves to forming a much needed resource: an organization to promote acceptance of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) youth, and to aid in crisis and suicide prevention among that group.
Children’s names and pictures were flashed before our eyes on large screens above the stage as a reminder that these are real people- children- that could have been saved with the knowledge of The Trevor Project. They provide 24/7 phone support through the help of many tireless volunteers -one of whom travels 4 hours from Barstow, CA to the call center in West Hollywood to volunteer twice a month. The people that stand behind this project should be commended and were on this “Cracked Christmas” night.
The evening took unexpected twists and turns between laughter and tears with Vanessa Carlton singing “home” to Marc Shaiman’s musical telegram for Neal Patrick Harris, filled with many dirty double entendres.
The final speaker was the Trevor life award recipient Neal Patrick Harris. He was well spoken, humble, and a true inspiration to this audience.
“I came out in 2006 and have enjoyed some of the happiest moments in my life since then” says Harris.
He further went on to honor the real heroes, the volunteers for The Trevor Project. He told stories of these amazing people who spend night after night talking gay youth out of ending their most precious lives. This evening was a true reminder that everyone’s voice, everyone’s efforts, everyone’s involvement is needed. I was inspired to get involved- Surprise! Surprise! This was an event to remember and to remind us all to take care of each other.
If you are interested in more info on how to volunteer with The Trevor Project- here’s how to help: