Alyssa Milano speaks about early HIV activism, trans rights, #metoo, and calls everyone to vote during Ariadne Getty Ally Award acceptance speech at 2018 GLAAD Gala San Francisco

Actor and activist Alyssa Milano received the first ever Ariadne Getty Ally Award at the 2018 GLAAD Gala San Francisco. The award is named after philanthropist Ariadne Getty,  member of GLAAD’s Board of Directors who announced a $15 million lead gift to support GLAAD’s work to accelerate LGBTQ acceptance earlier this year. 

Star of Shadowhunters and Broadway's Hamilton, Javier Munoz, who also shared his story as part of the #metoo movement, presented the GLAAD trophy to Milano, referring to her as “Alyssa the Ally."

"My parents instilled in me the belief that it didn’t matter what someone else looked like, or whom they loved; we are all the same on the inside and we all deserve respect," said Milano in her acceptance speech. "I really became an activist in the 80s during the height of the HIV/AIDS crisis. When I joined my young friend Ryan White, who was HIV positive, on The Phil Donahue show, I kissed Ryan on the cheek. I wanted to show everyone that HIV could not be transmitted through casual contact, and shift the narrative away from the stigma that patients like Ryan and LGBTQ people across the country were feeling during that time. I wanted to change the story from fear to acceptance, just like GLAAD does on every media platform."

Milano also called for legal representation for families and children facing deportation, equality for transgender people and people of color, and standing in solidarity with the #MeToo movement. 

She also called the crowd to join her in "fighting the Trump administration… about pretty much everything."

Milano closed her speech with an impassioned plea to vote during the upcoming midterm elections:
"I want to remind you that voting is not just about politics. Voting is how we protect each other: our neighbors, our family members, our community members, our friends. It’s how we protect people who don’t realize just how badly they need protection (I won’t name names, but some of them wear red MAGA hats). We are here for them, too. To me, that’s what being an ally is all about: seeing people as individuals, and supporting their experiences. Listening with an open heart as they share their stories. That’s what leads to equality. That’s what creates empathy and compassion. And that is what will lead America to acceptance for all."

Emmy Award-winning comedian Leslie Jordan, star of the upcoming new FOX sitcom The Cool Kids, hosted the 2018 GLAAD Gala San Francisco. The ceremony featured a fun performance by trangsender pop sensation, Kim Petras. RuPaul’s Drag Race judge Ross Mathews was honored with the Davidson/Valenti Award, presented by longtime friend and Drag Race co-judge, Michelle Visage. Veteran journalist and Afropunk Chief Content Officer, Emil Wilbekin, was also honored with the Ric Weiland Award for growing LGBTQ inclusion in tech. Actresses Mj Rodriguez and Josie Totah also appeared during the show. 

The GLAAD Gala San Francisco celebrates and features storytellers and tech innovators who accelerate LGBTQ acceptance. The GLAAD Gala San Francisco is presented by Gilead, Ketel One Family-Made Vodka, and Wells Fargo. The evening also featured a special message from Olympic medalist Adam Rippon talking about Ketel One Family-Made Vodka’s commitment to the LGBTQ community, quality, and the importance of family, as well as its eight year partnership with GLAAD.