Herndon Graddick, President of GLAAD, the nation’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) media advocacy and anti-defamation organization, announced today that actor and LGBT advocate Wilson Cruz joins GLAAD’s staff as the Strategic Giving Officer. Cruz will be part of GLAAD’s Development team, helping to fund GLAAD’s work amplifying stories from the LGBT community that build support for equality.
“For more than two decades GLAAD has combatted anti-LGBT images in the media and changed the national conversation about LGBT people,” said Cruz. “Today, GLAAD is also using its media expertise to create a culture that is accepting and safe for all young people. From Spanish-language media to sports, Hollywood to the newsroom, GLAAD shares the stories and sparks the discussions that make the world a better place for LGBT people everywhere. I am proud and excited to grow this culture-changing work. ”
“Throughout his career, Wilson Cruz has been a strong advocate for LGBT Americans,” said GLAAD President Herndon Graddick. “His work in film and television, as well as his commitment to supporting local and national LGBT organizations exemplifies GLAAD’s mission to move LGBT equality forward.”
Cruz’s involvement with GLAAD began in 1995, when he accepted the GLAAD Media Award on behalf of the groundbreaking drama, My So-Called Life. Cruz’s role as gay high school student Rickie Vasquez was a groundbreaking moment in the history of LGBT images in the media. In 1997, Cruz joined GLAAD’s Board of Directors, giving his time and expertise to lead GLAAD during a time of transition. In 2008, GLAAD honored Cruz with its Visibilidad Award, given to an openly lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender media professional who has made a significant difference in promoting equality for the LGBT community. Cruz has also contributed to the success of the GLAAD Media Awards by participating on a panel of celebrities and industry experts who finalize the award recipients, and by hosting the event itself.
Cruz’s advocacy on behalf of the LGBT community has not been limited to his work with GLAAD. He recently served on the Board of Directors for The Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN), and for the past two years he co-chaired their annual Respect Awards which raise money for the organization. Cruz also worked at The National Gay & Lesbian Task Force as a Field Organizer, advocating in cities around the United States to expand human rights ordinances to includes sexual orientation. He has been the Grand Marshal at Chicago, West Hollywood and San Diego Pride events, as well volunteering for the Los Angeles Gay & Lesbian Center.
Cruz has found acting success in film and television and on Broadway and will maintain his professional acting career. In addition to My So-Called Life, Cruz had regular roles on Party of Five, and on Noah’s Arc, another groundbreaking show about gay men of color. He has made guest appearances on ER, Ally McBeal, The West Wing, Grey’s Anatomy, and NCIS. His film work includes Nixon, Party Monster, and He’s Just Not That Into You. On Broadway, he portrayed Angel in the smash hit musical Rent. His experience in the entertainment industry will increase GLAAD’s contacts at networks and film studios, strengthening GLAAD’s existing work advocating for fair and inclusive images of LGBT people in Hollywood.
Cruz’s first day at GLAAD will be September 4, 2012.