During her acceptance speech for a prestigious honor at the 2020 Greater New York Human Rights Gala, Kristin Chenoweth navigated the typically rocky waters of religion and LGBTQ rights through her characteristic beaming smile and charismatic flare.
With a playful demeanor throughout the speech, the star of the original Broadway Wicked production expressed her stance that bridging the gap isn't merely possible, but ideal.
This year, at its largest Gala event in the country, the 2020 Human Rights Campaign awarded the annual "Global Ally for Equality Award" to Broadway, TV and film actor Chenoweth.
In a press release put out before the event, HRC President Alphonso David outlined why the Tony and Emmy winning actor deserved the honor.
"Kristin Chenoweth is a dynamic, multi-faceted artist who has used her platform to lift up the LGBTQ community."
"On the stage, screen and beyond, Chenoweth is leaving her mark while proudly standing with us as a powerful ally and advocate."
Chenoweth was over the moon about the win, clearly reverent to HRC's important mission and impact, as the star's caption on an Instagram post drove home.
"Humbled, honored, inspired, grateful... Thank you for the most beautiful evening, @humanrightscampaign. YOU are the change we need in the world!"
And although the Emmy and Tony winner sent all the credit to the Human Rights Campaign, the internet is sending some love her way too.
Chenoweth's acceptance speech followed right along with the HRC's overall mission statement, a pledge as succinct as it is meaningful:
"As the largest national lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer civil rights organization, HRC envisions a world where LGBTQ people are ensured of their basic equal rights, and can be open, honest and safe at home, at work and in the community.
The full, 7-minute speech charms and empowers.
With typical levity, Chenoweth kicked off the speech with a key takeaway from her meeting with Naomi Campbell, who was honored the same night with HRC's "Global Advocacy Award."
"I realized I was the size of her one leg, ladies and gentlemen," grinned Chenoweth from behind a podium that nearly reached her shoulders.
But Chenoweth quickly moved on to a story that reminded all why she was there.
She shared her childhood experience when, on the schoolyard in her home state of Oklahoma, a friend of hers was called a "dyke."
At home, Chenoweth's mother did two things. First, she explained a dyke as "a woman who loves another woman." And second, she said she didn't see any problem with that.
Addressing the crowd directly, Chenoweth brings her faith into the equation, positioning it in service to acceptance, rather than opposed to it:
"As an adopted child...people say they don't believe in miracles...I say, 'thank you God for putting me in the right family'."
Chenoweth continues with another tale, this one from her time as a Freshman at Oklahoma City University, when a gay friend of hers confided that he was ready to go to Hell for his sexuality.
Again, Chenoweth's family showed that faith and LGBTQ activism can swim in the same pond, this time from the words of her grandmother.
"You know what I do? I read the bible like I eat fish."
"I take the meat that serves me well, but I don't choke on a bone."
Throughout the whole speech, Chenoweth reminded that her LGBTQ acceptance comes from a core, gut feeling. She repeatedly stated:
"I'm just speaking my truth."