The theme for GLAAD’s 23rd Annual Media Awards in New York last week was “Lights, Camera, Take Action.” A fitting theme for an organization whose purpose is to keep the LGBTQQ communities’ representation in the media both: positive and present. While you may have gotten your GLAAD media coverage from anyone with a pair of eyes and a camera phone over the last week, the truth is that there was more to the event than John Stamos, Naya Rivera and Cory Monteith kissing people for money. All things considered, GLAAD’s events never fail to bring out the stars and awarding the films mainstream media are afraid of (like Pariah receiving Outstanding Film-Limited Release honors), so I took an opportunity to chat with some of the special guests, and some of the people who make all of GLAAD’s events possible.
Sheri Fults is a literary manager who began her partnership with GLAAD in LA, initially serving on the LA Leadership Council, then subsequently co-chairing for two years, followed by two years of co-chairing the LA Media Awards. She now serves on the board, and sits on the Executive Committee, Support and Senior Volunteer Committees. She had this to share about the scope of the event: “It’s like the creating of a new cultural moment. Every time we come together, it’s fantastic.” About the increased significance of GLAAD: “I think if you look at the primetime television schedule, you can see the effects of the cultural change that GLAAD’s work has done in the past 27 years. And 27 years ago, I was coming out and there weren’t any alternatives in terms of media. You’d go to a bookstore and maybe find one, maybe two lesbian novels, and they were so dark and depressing. So it was very, very difficult. But for people your age (Note: My flattery here. I’m 28.), it’s great that there’s a gay consciousness.”
If I had a theme of my line of questioning that evening, it was “the future.” I recognize the many great accomplishments of GLAAD, and noted how far they’ve come in terms of scale and scope, even from my very first coverage a few years ago on behalf of CG. But how do we, as a community, as a civilization evolve past this issue of gay rights vs. civil rights, gay/straight culture, and just accept one another?
Sheri offered this, “That is such an extraordinarily philosophical and profound question. I think there is always, unfortunately, a dark spot in the human heart. But I think what GLAAD and so many organizations does, is just stand up and say ‘No’ and more importantly say ‘We can make this all a better world, and we do have a common humanity at the end of the day.” I would be remiss to say I want to talk about the future without offering this insight from her for people, young and old, struggling with their sexual identities or who are considering ‘coming out’ for the first time, “Have a belief in yourself. That’s all it takes.”
Whitney Day is an awesome DJ who I frequently run into throughout New York’s frequent LGBTQ parties. She’s amassed a pretty respectable list of accolades, including NEXT Magazine’s featured DJ for ‘Who’s Next’ 2012. I posed the question to her: What is the significance of GLAAD? “I think it’s extremely important. They’re breaking the stereotypes of mainstream media for the LGBTQ community.” Whitney told me about her experiences coming out, as well, “I came out when I was about 14, and I know I’m fortunate to have positive experiences in my own life, being an out-lesbian growing up in Manhattan. I think the presence of LGBTQ people in the mainstream media; on TV, on radio, in music, in film, etc. and whoever continues to give a voice to our community and a face to our community and breaks down those stereotypes will help show that we’re just like everybody else.”
Shane Stevens is a singer-songwriter enjoying success with the Sundance Channel’s docu-reality hit, “Girls Who Like Boys Who Like Boys” where he tackled such issues as friendship, religion and more. He was incredibly humbled and moved by the opportunity to be in attendance, and he made a really great point about the unseen struggle in the media for LGBTQ representation. “People my age and younger don’t necessarily get to see the progress because we’re a part of the progress. But because of the work being done, people my age and people younger than me can be who they are.”
It can be that complex, either a conversation about the way we move forward on the red carpet at GLAAD’s Media Awards, or it can be on the inside, where I discussed how we create more transparency, so that organizations like GLAAD don’t have to police ignorance after an offense has already taken place, but how we can determine those most likely to require involvement from GLAAD, and educate hosts, pundits and more on how to accept differences and educate their own audience.
So what, then? Is there no real significance of having huge television stars like Naya Rivera and Cory Monteith hosting your show? Of course there is. Stars equal ratings and media coverage and that’s why we’re all here… To challenge the media’s status quo, and to tell the dinosaurs that their time; the time of the old, white, middle-age protagonist is over. And the future is now, taking action with GLAAD.
Following is a complete list of GLAAD Media Award recipients announced Saturday in New York.
• Vito Russo Award: Craig Zadan & Neil Meron (presented by Bernadette Peters and John Stamos)
• Special Recognition Award: openly gay 17-year-old anti-bullying advocate, Katy Butler (presented by Harvey Weinstein)
• Outstanding Film- Limited Release: Pariah (Focus Features) [accepted by: Adepero Oduye, Kim Wayans and producer Nekisa Cooper]
• Outstanding Reality Program: Dancing with the Stars (ABC) [accepted by: Carson Kressley]
• Outstanding TV Journalism Segment: “Battle Against Bullying” ABC World News with Diane Sawyer (ABC) [accepted by: reporter Josh Elliott]
• Outstanding Magazine Article: TIE: “15th Anniversary of the Passage of the Defense of Marriage Act” (series) by Chris Geidner (Metro Weekly) [accepted by: Chris Geidner] and “Black & Gay in Corporate America” by Carolyn M. Brown (Black Enterprise) [accepted by: Carolyn M. Brown]
• Outstanding TV Movie Or Mini Series: Cinema Verite (HBO)
• Outstanding Talk Show Episode: “Coming Out on the Oprah Show: 25 Years of Unforgettable Guests” The Oprah Winfrey Show (syndicated)
• Outstanding TV Journalism – Newsmagazine: “The ‘Sissy Boy’ Experiments” Anderson Cooper 360 (CNN)
• Outstanding Newspaper Article: “Led by the Child Who Simply Knew” by Bella English (The Boston Globe)
• Outstanding Newspaper Columnist: Frank Bruni (The New York Times)
• Outstanding Newspaper Overall Coverage: The New York Times
• Outstanding Magazine Overall Coverage: The Advocate/Out
• Outstanding Digital Journalism-Multimedia: “Injustice at Every Turn” (ITLMedia.org)
• Outstanding Music Artist: Lady Gaga, Born This Way (Interscope Records)
• Outstanding Comic Book: Batwoman by J.H. Williams III and W. Haden Blackman (DC Comics)
• Outstanding Los Angeles Theatre: No Word in Guyanese for Me by Wendy Graf
• Outstanding New York Theatre: Broadway & Off Broadway: The Intelligent Homosexual’s Guide to Capitalism and Socialism with a Key to the Scriptures by Tony Kushner
• Outstanding New York Theatre: Off-Off Broadway: Southern Comfort book and lyrics by Dan Collins, music by Julianne Wick Davis
• Outstanding Daytime Talk Show Episode: “Lesbianas celebran 10 años” Caso Cerrado (Telemundo)
• Outstanding Talk Show Interview: “Entrevista con Raquel Gómez y Mony Ruiz Velasco” Al Punto (Univision)
• Outstanding TV Journalism – Newsmagazine: “Asesino” Primer Impacto (Univision)
• Outstanding TV Journalism Segment: “Ángeles del cambio” Noticiero 34 (KMEX TV-34 [Los Angeles, Calif.])
• Outstanding Newspaper Article: TIE: “Casamiento e hijos biológicos para pareja gay hispana de EEUU” by Claudia Torrens ( Associated Press) and “Madre hay una sola, no necesariamente” by Virginia Gaglianone (La Opinión)
• Outstanding Magazine Article: “Nueva York ♥ la igualdad” by Michelle Oyola (People en Español)
• Outstanding Digital Journalism Article: “Las 7 señales de un niño transgénero” by Paula Andalo (Univision.com)
• Outstanding Music Artist: Ricky Martin, Música + Alma + Sexo (Sony Music Latin)
Special Recognition: El Diario la Prensa