This Pride Month Celebration Of Judy Garland Will Help Save LGBTQ Lives

In what’s become an LGBTQ Pride Month tradition, a host of Broadway, television and film performers are set to take the stage this week to celebrate Judy Garland. 

Now in its ninth year, “Night of a Thousand Judys” will feature performances by Alan Cumming, Jane Monheit, Nathan Lee Graham and Margo Seibert, among other artists. This year’s one-night-only event will be held virtually Thursday and, as was the case last year, be livestreamed. 

“While she’s seen as a tragic torch singer, she’s actually a singer of resilience,” writer-performer Justin Sayre, who uses they/them pronouns, said of Garland last year. “One day we’ll get over the rainbow, one day we’ll get over the man that got away, one day we’ll catch that frickin’ trolley.” 

Proceeds from the show, as well as an accompanying auction of Garland-themed artwork, will benefit the Ali Forney Center, the nation’s largest advocacy group for homeless LGBTQ youth. 

This year’s event is taking place amid a resurgence of interest in “The Wizard of Oz” star, who died in 1969 at age 47. In February, Warner Bros. Pictures announced plans for a “Wizard of Oz” remake. And last year, Renée Zellweger won an Oscar for her performance as Garland in the acclaimed biopic “Judy.” 

“Night of a Thousand Judys” was initially conceived as the Pride Month edition of Sayre’s “The Meeting,” a live variety show honoring an artist or a cultural work that is iconic to the gay community. 

In recent years, Sayre has branched out into other realms, too, In 2015, they published their first book, “Husky,” and began work as a writer and a story editor for CBS’s “2 Broke Girls.” 

In a chat with HuffPost, Sayre selected a few of his favorite performances from previous installments of “Night of a Thousand Judys.” Check them out below. 

  • Scott Matthew, ‘Smile’

    “Scott Matthew is a haunting singer. His voice and interpretations of a lyric is so purely and so personal. With each and every song he sings, he makes you take a deeper look at the meaning. Having him sing at ‘Judys’ was a supreme pleasure, and the song just breaks your heart.”

  • Carolee Carmello, ‘When The Sun Comes Out’

    “There are few Broadway belters who can hold a candle to Carolee Carmello and here’s a shining example of why. The voice is so rich and yet it cuts through the room with electricity and excitement all its own. Carolee is such a masterful performer, she’s a lesson in personal power and I adore watching her. She’s also one of the most genuine and giving performers in the business.” 

  • Nathan Lee Graham, ‘If Love Were All’

    “A Noel Coward song interpreted by Nathan Lee Graham, there’s nothing better. Nathan is one of my favorite performers in the world. There’s no one like him. His grandeur, his style, his largess, all blossom forth from his supreme sense of truth. Watch and you’ll see for yourself.”  

  • Molly Pope, ‘Chicago’

    “A performance I still think about all these years later. Molly is a longtime friend of both me and the show, so seeing her step into the shoes of Garland in this way was a special thrill. She’s bold, brassy, and bringing the house down. You don’t have to take my world for it, give it a listen.” 

  • Kim David Smith, ‘The Trolley Song’

    “Kim David Smith brings a sexy and sinister quality to everything he touches. This song is no exception. He’s far from a sinister person, of course. He’s a warm and generous performer who’s always happy to perform. He’s also very easy on the eyes.”  

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