Janet Jackson (search) was in no mood for jokes when she got a cheeky introduction from actor Alan Cumming as she received a humanitarian award from a gay rights group.

After Cumming joked that she was never one for controversy, Jackson apologized for her own lack of humor in her first public appearance since brother Michael Jackson's (search) acquittal on child molestation charges.

"My family and I have just gone through the least humorous chapter of our lives," she explained in accepting the award Saturday night from the Human Rights Campaign. "I'm going to leave the jokes to the late-night (comics), if that's OK."

Michael Jackson was acquitted June 13 following a four-month trial on charges he molested a 13-year-old cancer survivor at his Neverland ranch in 2003.

"What I've learned in these recent months is that there is a light at the end of the tunnel," Janet Jackson said. "And it's real, it's a beautiful light that both comforts our minds and strengthens our souls. Tonight my heart is filled with gratitude for that light. I'm so grateful that prayers are answered, that faith is rewarded and tolerance is celebrated as a virtue. I'm grateful that God is of unconditional love."

Jackson was honored for the millions of dollars she has both raised and donated for humanitarian causes, notably the American Foundation for AIDS Research, the Elton John AIDS Foundation and the Children Affected by AIDS Foundation.

She received a standing ovation from the hundreds of $250-$375-a-plate contributors who crammed the Beverly Hilton Hotel ballroom.

Jackson told the crowd, "Acceptance is right. Kindness is right. Love is right. I pray, right now, that we're moving into a kinder time when prejudice is overcome by understanding; when narrow-mindedness, and narrow-minded bigotry is overwhelmed by open-hearted empathy; when the pain of judgmentalism is replaced by the purity of love."