Orange Is the New Black, Philomena, Concussion, Elementary were among the big award recipients at GLAAD’s 25th Annual GLAAD Media Awards at the Waldorf Astoria in New York. Naomi Watts, Kylie Minogue, Emmy Rossum, Boy George, Laura Prepon, Laverne Cox, Swoosie Kurtz, Tamron Hall, and country star Kacey Musgraves were among the special guests. The 25th Annual GLAAD Media Awards are presented nationally by Ketel One Vodka, Wells Fargo, and Hilton Worldwide. The New York event is presented locally by Delta Air Lines and Bud Light.
The GLAAD Media Awards recognize and honor media for their fair, accurate and inclusive representations of the LGBT community and the issues that affect their lives. The GLAAD Media Awards also fund GLAAD’s work to amplify stories of LGBT people and issues that build support for equality.
At the ceremony, longtime LGBT advocate David Mixner introduced GLAAD President & CEO Sarah Kate Ellis, who received two standing ovations from the capacity audience. In her remarks she said, “We are a team – focused on advocating and educating – and we have added a new component to our arsenal: we have to protect the phenomenal progress we have made over the past quarter of a century. There are some who say ‘our work is done.’ I say we have twice as much work to do.”
Also at the ceremony, George Takei received the Vito Russo Award, which is named after one of GLAAD’s co-founders and the author of The Celluloid Closet. The award is presented to an out media professional who has made a significant difference in promoting equality. Previous Vito Russo Award honorees include Anderson Cooper, Ricky Martin, Rosie O’Donnell, Alan Cumming, Cynthia Nixon, Nathan Lane, Cherry Jones, Elton John, k.d. lang, and Tom Ford. The award was presented to Takei by Broadway director Stafford Arima who is directing Allegiance, a new Broadway musical starring Takei, Telly Leung, and Lea Salonga.
In his acceptance speech Takei said, “I am so glad to be with all you GLAAD people to receive this important recognition. The Vito Russo Award is charged with meaning and potency. In the 25 years since its founding, GLAAD has dramatically changed American society for gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people. I know, because as a closeted kid growing up in Los Angeles…all I saw of gays and lesbians in movies and television or heard on radio were caricatures of people who were mocked and laughed at, or pitied, or hated. The media stripped us of all humanity and made us into pathetic stereotypes. The media then was a soul-crushing monster. GLAAD took on this formidable beast with its media savvy, political acumen and the power of its advocacy and transformed the media into a powerful force for change. GLAAD inspired and galvanized others into action to join with in the great 21st century civil rights movement.”
Takei continued, “But as long as LGBT people can be fired from their job for simply being who they are, our work isn’t done yet. As long as young people are kicked out of their families just for being who they are, our work is not done yet. As long as people are be bullied into feeling that their lives are so hopeless that they are driven to self-destructive acts, our work is not done. Working in concert with GLAAD, with its history of achievement and the legacy of Vito Russo, we will make this a better world, a more equal society of all people…I accept the GLAAD Vito Russo Award with pride, and with humility and with resolve.”
Boy George introduced global superstar Kylie Minogue, who performed “Can’t Get You Out of My Head.” Grammy Award-winning country music artist Kacey Musgraves performed her LGBT empowering anthem “Follow Your Arrow.”
Naomi Watts presented the award for Outstanding Comedy Series to the Netflix original series Orange Is the New Black. Cast members Laverne Cox, Laura Prepon, Natasha Lyonne, Samira Wiley, Dascha Polanco, Selenis Leyva, Yael Stone, Taryn Manning, Emma Myles, and Alysia Reiner accepted the award on behalf of the show. Emmy Rossum presented the award for Outstanding Film – Limited Release to director Stacie Passon and star Robin Weigert for the film Concussion. Looking cast members Raúl Castillo and Frankie J. Álvarez presented the award for Outstanding Individual Episode to the Elementary episode “Snow Angels.” This category recognizes LGBT storylines shows which do not have a regular LGBT character. Transgender actress Candis Cayne, who played Ms. Hudson in the episode, accepted the award on behalf of the show.
Global superstar Kylie Minogue and Grammy Award-winner Kacey Musgraves performed for the capacity crowd. Comedian Fortune Feimster hosted the event. Other special guests included: Naomi Watts (Birdman); Emmy Rossum (Shameless); Robin Weigert, Lee Tergesen (The Americans); pop star Boy George; Raúl Castillo, Frankie J. Álvarez (Looking); Tamron Hall (Today’s Take); Candis Cayne (Elementary); country singer Chely Wright; out Grammy-winning country music songwriter Shane McAnally; New Orleans bounce performer Big Freedia; out NCAA basketball player Derrick Gordon; WWE Superstar Darren Young; Olympic speed skater Blake Skjellerup; MMA fighter Jessica Aguilar; transgender model Geena Rocero; GLAAD National Spokespersons Wilson Cruz and Omar Sharif, Jr., and GLAAD CEO & President Sarah Kate Ellis. DJ Tracy Young was the guest DJ at the after-party.
Additional awards were presented at the Los Angeles GLAAD Media Awards on April 12 at the Beverly Hilton. For video, photos, and more, visit:glaad.org/mediaawards/recap. To receive the latest updates on the GLAAD Media Awards, follow @glaad on Twitter and use the hashtag #glaadawards.