On September 28, Emmy-nominated showrunner, writer, director, producer and actor Dan Levy was honoured with the Davidson/Valentini Award at the GLAAD Gala San Francisco.
Levy’s Schitt’s Creek co-stars Emily Hampshire, Annie Murphy, and Noah Reid presented him with the award.
In their opening remarks, Hampshire, Murphy, and Reid all praised Levy for being a trailblazer and his work to normalize LGBTQ+ storylines.
Noah Reid stated: “Working with Dan for the past several years, we’ve watched him emerge as a leader for the entire industry in how to tell LGBTQ stories with normalcy, positivity and respect.”
Reid continued, “It’s something we just don’t see enough: two LGBTQ people loving each other out loud, without the shadow of bigotry and hate.”
Emily Hampshire added on to this by praising Levy’s decision-making on the show: “…Dan decided from the start, ‘There will be no homophobia in Schitt’s Creek. It just doesn’t exist.’ I get goosebumps just saying that, because it was such a maverick move.”
In her remarks, Annie Murphy commented on the relationship between Dan and his father Eugene Levy, who co-created the show together: “My favourite thing on set is watching Dan’s dad Eugene back at the monitors, watching Dan and his sister Sarah act.
“Eugene’s got this huge grin on his face, mouthing their lines like a proud dance mom, and just beaming with pride. The love and acceptance he feels for his kids is so apparent and is so beautiful to watch.”
At the beginning of his acceptance speech, Levy brought attention to the ongoing epidemic of violence against trans women of colour: “There is an epidemic of murders of black trans women – 19 in this country, this year, alone.
“This is a crisis that needs to be seen and heard and acknowledged by the highest levels of power and influence in this country and around the world.”
During his speech, Levy also reflected on being bullied and how he got to where he is today: “I think back to the bullying, the name calling, the shoving, the side eyes, a guy in math class calling me a faggot…I bring this up because when I was told that I’d be receiving this honor I immediately went back to that place and asked myself, “how did I get here – to this place – standing in front of you all tonight an out and proud gay… Emmy loser?”
Dan Levy also used his acceptance speech to talk about the importance of creating Schitt’s Creek to bring greater visibility and representation to LGBTQ people on television: “It was a small way of paying back the generosity that had been shown to me, while at the same time creating space on television for queer characters that I could relate to.
“The result was Schitt’s Creek. A place where everybody fits in. Where love is celebrated and people’s differences are a reason to start a conversation, not end one. It’s a place where my character David, a pansexual man with really intense pants and sweaters can fall in love with his now fiancé Patrick, a gay man, without fear of consequence.
“It’s a place where acceptance incubates joy and creates clarity that allows people to see themselves and each other more deeply.”
GLAAD’s Davidson/Valentini Award is presented to an LGBTQ media professional who has made a significant difference in promoting acceptance for the LGBTQ community.
The award is named after Craig Davidson, GLAAD’s first executive director, and his partner Michael Valentini.
Levy, who identifies as a gay man, has consistently been recognized as a trailblazer in the LGBTQ community.
In 2015, Levy was included in the OUT 100 list, a spotlight on the LGBTQ community’s brightest voices. In 2017, Levy used his online platform to call out a Globe & Mail reporter for using “offensive, irresponsible, and homophobic” language to describe him, and sent a message of positivity and love to youth who have ever been criticized for being different.
In 2018, Levy and Schitt’s Creek created an online fundraiser called “Fight For Our Future,” which raised money for GLAAD to “continue to fight for the rights of LGBTQ people everywhere.”
In celebration of the 50th anniversary of Stonewall in June 2019, Levy was also honored in Queerty’s Pride50, a list of “50 trailblazing individuals who actively ensure society remains moving towards equality, acceptance and dignity for all queer people.”
This year on Levy’s birthday on August 9, Schitt’s Creek fans raised over $20,000 for the LGBT Youth Line in Ontario, Canada, which will go towards providing resources to LGBTQ youth in rural areas and indigenous communities across the province.
During the GLAAD Gala San Francisco, Paula Abdul was also honoured with the Ariadne Getty Ally Award, while tech innovator Ali Rosenthal was honoured with the Ric Weiland Award.
The event was hosted by RuPaul’s Drag Race alum and Broadway star Peppermint, and featured celebrity guests including the cast of Schitt’s Creek, Alicia Garza, Eva Gutowski, Justin Tranter, Ariadne Getty, August Getty, and more. Singer Garrett Clayton also performed a musical medley during the event.
The GLAAD Gala San Francisco celebrates and features storytellers and tech innovators who accelerate LGBTQ acceptance and helps fund GLAAD’s digital advocacy work to grow LGBTQ inclusion in digital and social media.
The 2019 GLAAD Gala San Francisco is presented by Gilead, Ketel One Family-Made Vodka & Wells Fargo, with official partner Google.