BY MICHAEL SHIREY | The Point Foundation, the largest scholarship organization working to support talented LGBT students, held its annual Point Honors Gala April 7 at the New York Public Library. Founded in 2001, the foundation provides financial support, comprehensive mentorship programs, leadership training, and community service opportunities.
This year’s gala honored Dr. Neal Baer, executive producer and showrunner of “ER,” “Law and Order: SVU,” and “Under the Dome,” along with Lena Dunham, producer and star of HBO’s critically acclaimed “Girls.”
More than 400 guests came out in support of the foundation’s scholars and alumni, raising over $600,000.
Foundation honors the voices of future LGBT generations
Mariska Hargitay and her former “Law and Order: SVU” co-star B.D. Wong expressed their love for Baer, whom they described as a joy to work with. Presenting Baer with the Point Leadership Award, Hargitay praised her producer for his ability to entertain audiences, while shedding light on the darker side of humanity, including challenges and struggles facing LGBT people
Baer joked that it only took five decades for him to come out, but that now he could not be happier. Speaking of his gradual journey, he said, “I’m glad I’m gay, that I love being gay. I love being who I am.”
Baer has been praised throughout his career for his well-rounded, honest depictions of LGBT characters, including television’s first HIV-positive character on “ER.” Expressing gratitude for being honored by the Point Foundation, he urged the scholars and alumni to “tell your stories and you will change the world.
Andrew Rannells, who starred in “The New Normal,” presented Dunham with the foundation’s Point Horizon Award, but not before taking a couple of digs at his “Girls” co-star’s relentless drive, which he referred to as “so friggin’ annoying.” But he also enthusiastically praised her ability to break female and LGBT stereotypes, describing Dunham as authentic and generous, someone who inspires others to tell their stories.
The “Girls” star spoke fondly of her connection to the LGBT community, recalling her sister Grace’s coming out into a family where she was not simply accepted but adored. Dunham thanked the Point Foundation for its efforts in providing educational support for LGBT youth, who, she noted, have a much higher dropout rate than heterosexual youth. She saluted the scholars and alumni and also thanked HBO for the opportunity it’s given her to create her show.
The night’s real stars were the Point Foundation’s scholars and alumni, several of whom were honored during the gala. Among them was Noah Lupica, a Liberal Medical Education student at Brown University studying to become a plastic surgeon, with an emphasis on trans and gender non-conforming patient care.
Point alumna Alexia Koritz is a Yale Law School graduate and was one of the lawyers who represented Edie Windsor in her successful case against the Defense of Marriage Act in 2013. She thanked the foundation not only for its financial support, but also for the always supportive community it helped her find. She credited Point for her early successes, including her service initiatives that guaranteed web access to LGBT resources, such as those of the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation and the Human Rights Campaign, on college campuses across the country.
The night featured musical performances by Broadway and television star Telly Leung and Uzo Aduba, who currently stars in “Orange is the New Black.” Leung sang “I Am What I Am” from “La Cage aux Folles,” while Aduba belted a rendition of “Don’t Rain on My Parade” from “Funny Girl.” Other celebrities in attendance included Billy Porter (“Kinky Boots”), Michael Urie (“Buyer and Cellar”), Murray Bartlett (“Looking”), and Judith Light (“The Assembled Parties,” “Wit”).
For more information on the Point Foundation, visit pointfoundation.org.