Marvel, George Takei among honorees for LGBT Center Vanguard Awards

Sept. 17, 2014 | 5:00 a.m.
Marvel Entertainment and George Takei will receive Vanguard Awards from the Los Angeles LGBT Center. Pictured are Marvel chief creative officer Joe Quesada, left, and Takei. (: Joe Scarnici/Getty Images / Jay L. Clendenin/Los Angeles Times)

Marvel Entertainment and George Takei will receive Vanguard Awards from the Los Angeles LGBT Center. Pictured are Marvel Chief Creative Officer Joe Quesada, left, and Takei. (Joe Scarnici / Getty Images; Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

Marvel Entertainment and activists George and Brad Takei are set to receive Vanguard Awards at the Los Angeles LGBT Center’s 45th anniversary gala Nov. 8.

Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky will also be honored with a Vanguard Award at the ceremony at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza, which celebrates efforts to promote tolerance and understanding of LGBT people.

Marvel is being honored for its LGBT characters and story lines “that parallel the struggle to end discrimination against our community, has helped brighten the lives of LGBT kids — and adults alike — around the world,” Los Angeles LGBT Center CEO Lorri L. Jean said in a statement released early Wednesday.

A look at the upcoming "Thor." (Russell Dauterman / Marvel)

A look at the upcoming “Thor.” (Russell Dauterman / Marvel)

Marvel Comics has received a great deal of attention of late for its efforts to bring more diversity to its publishing roster. In July the company revealed major story line changes to two of its marquee titles — first, it was announced a woman would become Thor in a new run of the comic penned by Jason Aaron, writer of the current, acclaimed “Thor, God of Thunder.”

The same week, Marvel Chief Creative Officer Joe Quesada, in an appearance on Comedy Central’s “The Colbert Report,” announced that Sam Wilson, a.k.a. the Falcon, will take the shield — and the moniker — of his patriotic pal Steve Rogers in the upcoming “All-New Captain America” series, launching in November.

The headline-grabbing moves continue a push by Marvel to make comics with the diversity to reflect (and expand) its audience: In recent years, the company hosted mainstream superhero comics’ first same-sex wedding, introduced black and Latino teen Miles Morales as the Spider-Man of its Ultimate line, and bolstered the profile of female superheroes with the high-flying “Captain Marvel,” the new Pakistani American and Muslim “Ms. Marvel” and more. The recent “Young Avengers” series by Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie notably explored the romantic relationship between male characters Wiccan and Hulkling, earned a fervent Tumblr following, and won the GLAAD Media Award for outstanding comic book.

“Star Trek” actor Takei has become a prominent spokesman for LGBT rights since publicly coming out in 2005. He married his longtime partner Brad Altman three years later.

Takei was the subject of the recent documentary, “To Be Takei,” which premiered at Sundance in January and was released in August. In his review for The Times, critic Gary Goldstein praised director Jennifer Kroot’s film as a “buoyant, engaging look” at the life of the actor and activist, best known for his role as Hikaru Sulu in the original “Star Trek” TV series and six “Trek” films.

The Los Angeles LGBT Center was founded in 1969 to help care for and champion LGBT individuals and families. The organization offers programs, services and global advocacy focused on health, social services and housing, culture and education, leadership and advocacy. Tickets for the Nov. 8 ceremony are $400.

For more information, or to purchase tickets, visit lgbtvanguardawards.org or call TAI Events at (310) 996-1188.

— Gina McIntyre and Blake Hennon | @LATherocomplex

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