Eric McCormack and Debra Messing, stars of the ground-breaking sitcom Will and Grace have joked that they now pray their children will grow up gay.

McCormack and Messing had been hosting an event for LGBT suicide prevention charity The Trevor Project at the Chelsea Piers in New York City, which they described as “one of the nation’s most beautiful urban parks/cruising grounds”, on Monday.

With the approbation of the vice president for their work advancing views on equal marriage in the US, the actors said they ought to have had an invitation to dinner at the White House or “at least a tea with Michelle”.

In May, shortly before President Obama’s support for equal marriage, Vice President Joe Biden said last he “absolutely comfortable” with gay couples marrying. He credited Will and Grace with evolving many American’s attitudes to homosexuality.

He said: “I think Will & Grace probably did more to educate the American public than almost anything anybody has done so far. People fear that is different and now they’re beginning to understand.”

When McCormack said they hoped for a world in which gay, bi or transgender children could grow up “safe and equal to their straight peers”, Messing joked they were possibly better.

McCormack, who is straight, said: “I pray to God my son grows up gay.”

Messing, who also has a son, added: “I know. I’d be devastated if my son grows up to be a hetero. I mean, I’d still love him … but as a parent you just envision a certain life for your child. I mean, if he’s straight, think of all the fabulous things he’s going to miss out on.

“When I think my son might never know the joys of having a quarter share on Fire Island and walking through Judy Garland Memorial Park on the way to the Meat Rack…”