Jennifer Lawrence Slams Mike Pence at GLAAD Media Awards: ‘Conversion Therapy Isn’t Real,’ Even Though ‘You Think It Worked on You’

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Ross Matthews wasn’t three words into his opening monologue at the 35th annual GLAAD Awards in New York City Saturday evening when a protester stood up from the audience to shout, “GLAAD is complicit in genocide.” The lone pro-Palestine advocate, blanketed by a wide-eyed room who let out a few jeers — “Who are you, you weirdo?” one donor shouted — was slowly, if not ceremoniously escorted from the room before she gave a final jab: “And so are all of you.”

“Thank you for your free speech. I’m so glad you have freedom,” Matthews, the evening’s host, said from the stage in an awkward attempt to recognize the protester. “Well, that was uncomfy for all of us, but we have to fight for everyone’s rights. Thank you for my opener,” he moved on, back on his feet.

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And so set the tone for the evening. Each year in a star-studded ceremony, GLAAD gives awards to LGBTQ+ media and bestows two honors: one to a trailblazing LGBTQ+ personality and another to an allied media icon. This year’s recipients were Orville Peck and Jennifer Hudson, respectively, introduced by Jennifer Lawrence and Laverne Cox.

But the GLAAD Media Awards are populated by donors and celebrity advocates. During a charged moment of generational protest over war in the Middle East and the lead-up to an existential election, most are too hamstrung by the companies or productions they represent to engage in the political matters which charge the moment. Money, not words, is how the room votes.

Matthews, refreshingly honest, summed up the dilemma to Variety before the ceremony began, perhaps anticipating some disturbance to his monologue.

“I have to be careful, and I’ll tell you honestly: I hate that I have to,” he told Variety. “We’re so divided now that I feel like if you state an opinion, you alienate half the country.” Matthews, in addition to his tenured role as producer and judge on “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” is also a newly minted producer and co-host on “The Drew Barrymore Show.”

“Lines have been drawn. Whatever you believe, you have to show up,” he said with a knowing wince at his generality. “Especially when you have a platform — myself included — you have to be careful, and I hate that. But you have to find balance. There are some things I keep to myself, and there are some things I can’t. GLAAD is one of them. In my monologue tonight, you’ll hear some things I can’t not say.”

Matthews did get out a few jabs: “Since some members of the Supreme Court think it’s okay for them to tell women what to do with their bodies, maybe we should tell them what they can do with theirs,” he chided at the top of the award show. “Like, maybe, they can go fuck themselves?”

Lawrence, there to introduce and honor her friend Peck, also used her introductory speech to hurl a few rousing insults at prominent Republicans, albeit ones who matter less these days.

“I love the gay community. In fact, I was in love with a homosexual. I tried to convert him for years, but now I know conversion therapy doesn’t work,” she began. “Did you hear me, Mike Pence? I said conversion therapy isn’t real, even though I know you think it worked on you,” she hurled to a giddy audience. “He’s in New York tonight. He’s receiving a Kid’s Choice Award for weirdest dick.”

Gay and transgender rights have a place in many of the political and social justice issues which confront voters this election cycle. Most guests on Saturday telegraphed what they hoped to say through pursed lips.

“I have to give you my ‘Miss America’ answer,” said Sasha Velour, a former “RuPaul’s Drag Race” winner and current co-host of HBO’s “We’re Here.” “LGBTQ+ activists have been at the forefront of all social justice movements,” she told Variety. “Even now, with students organizing to support Gaza, it’s queer people who are organizing. We’re part of every community, even if we aren’t welcomed.”

Jaida Essence Hall, another “Drag Race” winner and “We’re Here” co-host, grinned through her teeth: “Gay rights are human rights,” she told Variety on the red carpet, echoing the famous phrase. “Speaking up for social issues is like a buffet. There’s always room to go back for more. Everyone has a right to live where they are and be where they want to be. Wink wink.”

GLAAD, of course, is a political organization. While the glitz and glamor is fun — the award show also featured appearances by Uma Thurman, Don Lemon and Loren Allred, who sang “Never Enough” — the $350,000 raised on Saturday evening will primarily support get-out-the-vote initiatives and ad-buying through the election season.

It’s no surprise, then, that no guest roused louder applause and a hastier standing ovation than New York Attorney General Letitia James, who took the stage to introduce GLAAD’s president, Sarah Kate Ellis. Clad in a warrior-like evening dress overlaid with chain mail-like accents, James lit up the room. In her hands — still glossy with a $355 million bounty from Donald Trump — rested real change, the crowd reasoned.

“I love you more,” she shouted back at the star-struck audience with her strong New York brogue. “In New York, we say gay. We say lesbian. We say bi. We say transgender, and we say history,” she rallied with a stab at Florida’s infamous “Don’t Say Gay” legislation. “In New York, we don’t just say these words. We embody them each and every day, and we celebrate the history of everyone.”

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