Point Honors, the annual benefit gala presented by the Point Foundation, took place April 13 at the New York Public Library. This year’s gala honored Jonathan Groff, the star of HBO’s “Looking” who is now on Broadway in “Hamilton,” along with Jeffrey Tambor, for his groundbreaking turn in the Amazon series “Transparent.” Tim Hanlon, president of the Wells Fargo Foundation, was also recognized.
Conrad Ricamora (“The King and I,” “How to Get Away with Murder”) got the night started with a rendition of “Feel Good.” His song, along with opening comments from T.R. Knight (“Grey’s Anatomy”), set a tone focused on progress, not just for the Point Foundation but for the LGBT community as a whole.
Judith Light, who is on the Point Foundation Honoree Board, presented Hanlon with the Point Impact Award, noting that the Wells Fargo Foundation’s billion-dollar-plus in philanthropic giving over the past four years has included support for LGBT charities including the Point Foundation.
Director Michael Mayer praised his “Spring Awakening” star Groff. Accepting the Point Horizon Award, Groff compared the rebellious but intellectual nature of his “Spring Awakening” character Melchior to the Point scholars. “These scholars are breaking ground and inspire all of us with their bravery and vision, at perhaps the moment in life when it is the hardest to say who you are,” he said. “I wish that I had an ounce of their courage at that time of my life.”
“Transparent” director and Point alumnus Rhys Ernst, along with star Gaby Hoffman, presented Tambor with the Point Courage Award for his support of the transgender community. Humbled, Tambor joked the award was “better than my Bar Mitzvah” and recalled highlights from his career, such as work with Light on projects including “Transparent.” On his “Transparent” role as Maura, Tambor said it is the responsibility of an actor to build a connection with audiences and establish a sense of community. He thanked “Transparent” creator Jill Soloway for changing his career and his life, along with Amazon for having the “guts” to support their show.
“You are the courageous ones in the room,” Tambor said to the scholars. “You are the hope of the future, and I am so proud to stand here tonight as your ally… Change the world.”
Of course, the night’s real stars were the Point scholars and alumni themselves. Among the many recognized were alumnus Naomi Jackson and scholar Audrey Stewart. Jackson, who received her MFA in Creative Writing from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop at the University of Iowa, praised the Point Foundation not only for its monetary contributions but also for the community it fosters.
Stewart, a current MBA candidate at Columbia University and a seven-year army veteran, gave a first-hand account of her service during the days of the military’s Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy and also spoke about the long road ahead, especially for the trans community, which is still barred from open service. A trans woman of color, Stewart expressed her gratitude for the opportunities the Point Foundation has afforded her.
The night also included a musical performance by Sarah Chase (“Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt”) and celebrity appearances by Daphne Rubin-Vega, Jason Collins, Murray Bartlett, Frankie J. Alvarez, and Miriam Shor.
The Point Foundation, the largest scholarship organization working to support talented LGBT students, was founded in 2001, and provides financial support, comprehensive mentorship programs, leadership training, and community service opportunities. For more information, visit pointfoundation.org.