VIDEO AND PHOTOS: HRC Interim President Gives Update on Disney, Honors Brandi Carlile & Features Guest Speaker Brian Michael Smith at Los Angeles Dinner

by Delphine Luneau

Event Features Speeches from HRC’s Interim President Joni Madison, Trailblazer Brian Michael Smith, and the Presentation of Six-Time Grammy Award-Winner Brandi Carlile with HRC’s Visibility Award

Los Angeles, CA – Saturday night, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ+) civil rights organization, hosted its Los Angeles dinner. The event featured speeches from HRC’s interim president Joni Madison, who updated the audience on HRC’s recent conversations with Disney. and trailblazer Brian Michael Smith, the first out Black trans man in a series regular role on network television. Soccer icon and LGBTQ+ rights activist Abby Wambach and her wife, author Glennon Doyle, presented six-time Grammy Award-winner Brandi Carlile with HRC’s Visibility Award, an award for LGBTQ+ individuals who are living open and honest lives at home, at work and in their greater community. The evening featured remarks from U.S. Congresswoman Sharice Davids (D-KS) as well as performances by Shea Diamond, VINCINT and comedian Dana Goldberg.

You can view photos from the event here.

Click here for videos of HRC Interim President Joni Madison, Brian Michael Smith, Brandi Carlile, Abby Wambach and Glennon Doyle. Excerpts from their speeches are below.

Find some key excerpts from HRC Interim President Joni Madison’s speech as drafted below:

“You may have seen news earlier this week that HRC is not going to take any funding from Disney until we see them take real action to defeat hateful legislation in Florida. You may have also seen that -- 36 hours later -- Disney CEO Bob Chapek apologized to his employees and committed to suspending all political giving in Florida.

I was glad to speak to Bob yesterday afternoon, and we had a very productive conversation about the need for Disney to put real muscle into stopping what's happening to their employees and to their fans. We need Disney’s partnership in getting the bills heading to Desantis's desk vetoed. And if that doesn't happen, to get these bills repealed. But this is not just about Bob Chapek and Disney. This is about every CEO and company in America

It’s gut check time for every CEO and company in America. The tech companies and entertainment companies here who have an influential presence across the country and around the world have an important role to play in fighting state-sanctioned discrimination wherever it exists.

We need more than inclusive employment policies and a clever Pride campaign.

We need CEOs to be taking actions that meet the moment we’re in.


We need your corporate values to be more than marketing materials. They must be guiding principles in how you show up for the most marginalized. I promise you, states’ lucrative tax laws won’t matter much to your employees and consumers who are being criminalized for supporting their kids and being pushed back in the closet by the legal system.

We need you to be there for us when it is hard and when it counts.

We are at a tipping point, much like the one we saw in 2016 with HB2 in North Carolina. The right thought they could use us as a wedge issue then, too.

After joining our sign-on letter, businesses followed up their statements with actions -- they refused to expand business in the state, they pulled out of conferences, they canceled events.

This moment feels like that moment -- that same tipping point where bad actors finally realized that if you come for our community, we’re going to hit you where it counts.

In the wallet. In the war chest. And at the ballot box.”

Brian Michael Smith on Anti-Trans State Legislation:

“My character Paul runs into burning buildings, puts himself in harm's way and fights to save lives.

Right now in Texas, Florida, Alabama, North Dakota and unfortunately many other places, the house is on fire for our community...There are close to 300 bills like this under consideration in statehouses right now.

HRC and other amazing organizations, including state LGBTQ groups, are like the firefighters, rushing in to battle it out. It's exhausting but vital. And the tyranny of this is that people like me, and trans kids around the nation, need to know the same allies who had our backs when it came to marriage equality are stepping in to have our backs now.


I get to use my athleticism every day in my job. I get to play a hero. I get to be my full self.

For me, playing sports was a lifeline that helped me find myself and feel complete. The horrendous anti-trans sports ban laws now being promulgated around the nation will rob trans girls of the opportunities to compete as their true selves. As a nation, we need to do better than this. We need to make our country more open and inclusive and not be slamming doors in the faces of kids trying to live their best lives.


This is the next chapter in our battle. Right here. Right now.

Brandi Carlile on receiving the Visibility Award:

“The worst part is that political predators addicted to power are carrying out their long-standing tradition of targeting children (especially trans kids) as they relate to the LGBTQIA + narrative.

This hurts all families, queer and cis heteronormative, because these misguided leaders chip away at our natural ability to understand one another.

They weaponize sexuality and sequester us off into categories of deviance making us inherently “age-inappropriate” when many of us have children ourselves. This isn’t light reading.

And yet… we celebrate…We honor one another in this way because we come from a long line of people who know how to find joy right smack in the middle of a fight… and that’s where we are.


In all seriousness and gratitude, we will win these fights like we’ve won the ones before them. There’s beauty in the struggle, joy in the fight and I’ll never stop being grateful for this honor and this visibility.”

Abby Wambach and Glennon Doyle on Brandi Carlile and her LGBTQ+ Visibility:

Abby Wambach:

“Here is what’s visible to the world about Brandi:

YES – she is one of music's most respected, unique, and powerful voices, a brilliant songwriter, magical performer, genius producer, and best-selling author.


Yes – she’s a humanitarian – her Looking Out Foundation, her Cover Stories album, her Every Vote Counts involvement all have led the way to make change.

But Glennon and I came tonight to tell you about what’s less visible to the world about Brandi.


Glennon Doyle:

Brandi is kind. She’s thoughtful and open and brave. She is led completely by her faith. And because of that – her art has always been an invitation to those who don’t often receive invitations. Her art has always been a party for misfits – well before being a misfit was cool. Her music, her concerts, her life have created a home for broken horses. Brandi has given people belonging – and because of this, her art has saved countless lives.”

The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people. HRC envisions a world where LGBTQ+ people are embraced as full members of society at home, at work and in every community.

Interim President of the Human Rights Campaign & Human Rights Campaign Foundation Joni Madison speaks onstage as Human Rights Campaign hosts the 2022 Los Angeles Dinner at JW Marriott on March 12, 2022 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Randy Shropshire/Getty Images)

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