Event: The 9th Annual GLAAD OutAuction

Originally Published on CherryGRRL.com: http://cherrygrrl.com/out-on-the-scene-the-9th-annual-glaad-outauction-with-david-lachapelle-sia-the-real-housewives/

On one brisk Autumn night in New York City, a writer from CherryGRRL and her lovely assistant attended the 9th annual GLAAD OUTAuction. The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation presented the event, in coordination with Bud Light, Rokk Vodka and inviting partner Lexus. The fantastic event celebrated the artwork of 100 emerging artists through a silent auction, and featured the auction of works by Pablo Picasso, Joan Miro, Dali and more. Photographer David LaChapelle accepted the annual “Out in Art” Award for raising awareness of the LGBTQ community through his work, from artist and heiress, Daphne Guinness.

It was my first time at New York’s Metropolitan Pavilion, but the space is incredible. Seeing the collection of work, both hetero and homosexual by nature, was awe-inspiring. By far, the key to the event was interacting with some of the artists, who were as moved and inspired to be selected as we were to see their work. Some of the artists traveled from great distances and battled some of their own issues with homophobia through the mediums of art and photography.

There was a collection of star power at the event. As Jill Zarin of the Real Housewives of NYC hosted, some of the other Housewives came together to support the cause; Kelly Killoren Bensimon, Ramona Singer, Alex McCord and husband Simon van Kempen, and Real Housewives of Atlanta’s Sheree Whitfield. JD Samson and Michael O’Neill of MEN attended, as well as JD’s girlfriend, Sia Furler. Sia is currently on hiatus from performing music due to health reasons, but that was undoubtedly my fan-girl moment of the evening, as a fan of her contributions to electronica artists Zero 7, as well as four of her own amazing solo records. I got a minute to chat with her before the event, and asked her the effect of celebrities on charitable organizations and events. “It’s really important. The sort of defamation that occurs, the pain that comes with those violent acts, it hurts the community as a whole. That’s the bottom line. The fact that there are organizations that exist to protect the community, and look out for us, and ensure that we’re represented fairly in the media… It’s super important. Especially now. There seems to be a shift in the thinking about the subjects that really affect this generation. So, it’s exciting. The gay babies that are being born can have a world with marriage equality and won’t get bullied.” Seizing the opportunity, I also asked her when we can expect a new album and she laughed. “Oh… I don’t know. Okay, here’s the scoop. I got sick with autoimmune disorder Graves Disease, which is a thyroid problem. And I got really thin, and I was undiagnosed for about six months. While all of this was happening, I was on tour. My hair was falling out, I passed out on stage… Terrible stuff. Medics thought it was a panic disorder. I had therapy, my hair is STILL falling out, I’ve put on loads of weight… But really, I don’t know if I’m ready to go back to work yet. I’m still having a tough time. I’m still writing everyday, for myself and other people.” I mentioned Christina Aguilera, whom she wrote some songs for in her last release, Bionic, and she gave her rave reviews. Also in attendance was Playwright Edward Albee, actor Jensen Atwood and star of another BRAVO production, The A-List‘s Mike Ruiz, and HGTV’s David Bromstad.

There was an array of press at the event, including People, Life & Style and the always dangerous TMZ. I was placed near the fantastic blogger Kenneth Walsh of the blog “Kenneth in the 212,” who quizzed me on the Real Housewives before they approached (thank goodness for that assistant!). With all that said, I did have the opportunity to talk with some of the Housewives, and ask them about their contribution to the event. Sheree was candid in her own experiences, “I know how the media can be… So cruel, sometimes. And they shape the opinion of a lot of people, so I think it’s fantastic what GLAAD is doing.” When I asked her about teens and adults struggling with their sexual identity, she offered up this token: “If you want to live your life to the fullest, you need to be comfortable with yourself.”

Kelly shared her take on the significance of the Housewives’ attendance on behalf of GLAAD and supported Jill Zarin’s selection as host for the evening, “I think it’s really important for the Housewives to bond together and support any of our respective charities. You know, one voice is strong, but six is so much stronger. Any time that we can come together like this is a really big deal.” Kelly also expressed to me the impact that hate has on her as a mother. “I have young children and I don’t ever want them to be in a situation where they feel not-in-control or uncomfortable, and so I’m glad that there are organizations that are active and even, proactive, about getting the word out and protecting people.”

Alex and Simon talked with me about the challenges of living a life in the closet or even struggling with any sort of secret. “It’s always better out than in,” Alex said. “It sounds so silly, but it’s true. Whatever the secret is, it can really eat you up inside. It’s not an easy world regardless of who you are, but if you can just let go of that, know that there are people out there supporting you.” Simon added, “There’s only one person that we each have to answer to, and that’s ourselves. If you can develop the strength to be honest with yourself, you can, quite frankly, do anything.”

Mike Ruiz of The A-List was very forthcoming about his own history with violence and homophobia, at home and in school as a kid. He provided a different insight that is equally valuable. “It’s easy to say ‘it gets better’ when you’re not in the situation or when you’re doing well. But I want to say that I created this life for myself despite the difficulties of my childhood. So you can still create an incredible life for yourself.”

It was an honor and a privilege to attend an event that directly, and indirectly, affected so many. GLAAD’s OUTAuction was a tremendous success and I look forward to seeing how the event is represented through the many lenses of Bravo, for their hit shows, The A-List and The Real Housewives of NYC and Atlanta.