HomeLGBTQGeorge Takei, Kristen Kish receive awards at CCA Celebration of LGBTQ+ Ceremony

George Takei, Kristen Kish receive awards at CCA Celebration of LGBTQ+ Ceremony

by Jana Monji

Japanese American actor George Takei received a Social Justice award and Korean American chef Kristen Kish received the TV Host Award at the inaugural Critics Choice Association Celebration of LGBTQ+ Cinema and Television on Friday, June 7.

The ceremony was held at the Fairmont Century Plaza in Los Angeles. Chinese American actress and stand-up comedian Sherry Cola hosted the inaugural event. During her opening remarks, she declared that LGBTQ+ people “are still here, being our authentic selves, living out loud and making as much noise as we can.”

Cola quickly acknowledged the presence of Takei, Michaela Jaé Rodriguez, Nathan Lane and Ricky Martin. She quipped that when she discovered the Netflix Baby Reindeer she thought it was going to be about Rudolph, but “That was very wrong. It turns out no red nose, just red flags, everywhere.”  She complimented honoree Matt Bomer as single-handedly keeping her bisexual.

Takei was warmly greeted by the audience after clips from his long career on television and film were shown.

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JUNE 07: George Takei, winner of the Social Justice Award, attends the Critics Choice Association’s Inaugural Celebration of LGBTQ+ Cinema & Television at Fairmont Century Plaza on June 07, 2024 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for Critics Choice Association)

In his speech, Takei recalled how he came out at 68 years old in 2005 after then-California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed California’s marriage equality bill. Furious with decision, Takei decided to speak out. 

“I blasted the veto and I spoke up on many TV guest spots after that. I became gay George Takei,” he said in his speech.

Howard Stern then made Takei his show’s official announcer. On the Stern show, he was able to share his story and promote LGBTQ+ rights, reaching millions of people. 

“Tonight I accept the Critics Choice Association’s Social Justice Award. Thanks to Arnold, I came out of the closet to fight for change,” Takei said. “Thanks to Howard, I was given a big microphone that I used to advocate for LGBTQ equality. Oh my.”

Takei ended the speech by thanking his husband and wishing others well.

“And standing beside me through it all, has been my husband Brad. Our 15-year marriage is the most cherished chapter of my life,” he said. “To those here tonight and those watching around the world, may your lives be enriched with the same love and acceptance that I am blessed to enjoy. As we say on the bridge of the Starship Enterprise: May you all live long and prosper.”

Kristen Kish initially seemed overwhelmed, but despite being flustered she quickly regained her composure, ending on a serious note.

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JUNE 07: (L-R) Karamo Brown and Kristen Kish, winner of the TV Host Award, attend the Critics Choice Association’s Inaugural Celebration of LGBTQ+ Cinema & Television at Fairmont Century Plaza on June 07, 2024 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for Critics Choice Association)

In her speech, she admitted she had always been “apprehensive about critics and criticism.”

“Growing up queer, the idea of judgment was terrifying. I worried I’d be criticized, partially negatively for something that isn’t a choice at all. Being sized up can be scary and, for most of my life, I did try to avoid it. I did pretty good until recently,” she said.

She acknowledge that as a chef and now host of Top Chef, she works in an industry “where criticism comes with the gig.”

“I selected a highly competitive field and, at times, have been very hard on myself, but I’ve also learned that criticism can be generative, purposeful and even inspiring. It is an art of its own and take real effort to offer a thoughtful critique,” she said.

Kish added that the goal of her critiques, whether at her restaurant or on Top Chef, is to offer meaningful feedback that an aspiring chef can carry with them.

“I experienced this benefit myself as a competitor all those years ago. And when I was presented with the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to become the host of this beloved TV show, the role for which I am standing here today, I was thrilled that I might be able to help provide others with the same,” she said.

Kish said now, part of her mission is to make sure the queer community feels seen. She encouraged the audience to show up for one another.

“Being queer may not be a choice, but what you do with your life is. How you show up and for how you show up and treat others and how you represent your people and those are choices made with clear intent and if you offer supportive feedback and encouragement to others, provide a safe space and express gratitude, you make the very personal judgement call to be part of a positive future for everyone. And no matter the community, that is a critical choice so express your gratitude for it is not lost,”

Kish also took time to thank presenter Karamo Brown for his support and her wife, Bianca, because “life with you is so much brighter and thank you for choosing me.”

Other honorees at the event included: Nathan Lane (Career Achievement Award), Abe Sylvia (Showrunner Award for Palm Royale), Carl Clemons-Hopkins (Supporting Performance Award for Television for Hacks), Chris Perfetti (Breakthrough Performance Award for Television Series for Abbott Elementary), producers Ron Nyswaner, Matt Bomer, Daniel Minaha, and Robbie Rogers (Producer Award for Fellow Travelers), Fernando Carsa (Rising Star Award for Acapulco), Henry R. Muñoz III (Industry Leadership Award for Funny Or Die), Luke Gilford (Breakthrough Director Award for National Anthem), Michaela Jaé Rodriguez (Vanguard Award for Loot), Oliver Hermanus (Director Award for Television for Mary & George), RuPaul’s Drag Race team (Trailblazer Award), Shakina (Writer Award for Television for Quantum Leap), and HBO Original Series We’re Here (accepted by Johnnie Ingram, Stephen Warren, Peter LoGreco, Sasha Velour, Priyanka, Jaida Essence Hall, and Latrice Royale).

The Celebration of LGBTQ+ Cinema & Television show is co-programmed by CCA members Jerry Nunn and Andrew Freund. The show is produced by Javier Infante and Madelyn Hammond of Madelyn Hammond & Associates. Sponsors of the event include Delta Air Lines, Fairmont Century Plaza, FIJI Water, Here Media, Milagro Tequila, NEP Sweetwater and STARZ.

The CCA is the largest critics organization in the United States and Canada, representing more than 600 media critics and entertainment journalists. Established in 2019 with the formal merger of the Broadcast Film Critics Association and the Broadcast Television Journalists Association, the CCA recognizes the intersection between film, television and streaming content.

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