By Keith Orr
NEW YORK – Straight people have the Oscars. We have the GLAAD Media Awards. Now in their 15th year, the media awards are a major fundraiser for GLAAD. Dinners and award ceremonies in Los Angeles, New York, and San Francisco will raise 2.7 million dollars for the media watchdog organization.
The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) is dedicated to promoting and ensuring fair, accurate and inclusive representation of people and events in the media as a means of eliminating homophobia and discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation.
The Media Awards recognize people and organizations that best exemplify GLAAD’s mission. They truly are an event to which stars go to see and be seen. Celebrities enter on a red carpet, pose for photographers, and answer questions yelled over the noise.
The Fab Five from Queer Eye for the Straight Guy were present. Carson was wearing formal with camouflage pants. Jai was taller than I expected, but just as adorable. When Julianne Moore appeared, all five engaged in a group hug with her. Moore received GLAAD’s Excellence in Media Award.
Before the program began I was talking to Martin when someone brushed past. “Was I just brushed by Glenn Close?” Indeed I was.
Glenn Close presented Tony Award-winning actress Cherry Jones with GLAAD’s Vito Russo Award, which honors an openly gay or lesbian member of the media community for their outstanding contribution in combating homophobia.
“I am truly, deeply honored by this award tonight,” Jones said during her acceptance. “I’ve always said that I came out of the womb a happy little homosexual. For me, being a lesbian has never been a burden, it has been a great pleasure.”
Playwright Doug Wright won for “I Am My Own Wife,” currently on Broadway. Moises Kaufman, the creator of the Laramie Project, directed this incredible story of a transvestite antiques dealer who survived the Nazis and East German Stassi.
In comparison Mr. Wright exclaimed, “And all I had to deal with were some Southern Baptists.” He also noted, “I thought I was telling the story of a hero. Instead, I found I was chronicling something much more complex, a human being.”
It was a big week for Doug Wright, having won the Pulitzer! Martin and I had seen the play two days earlier. If you are traveling to New York, don’t miss this show.
Other presenters, award winners, and guests included director Todd Haynes, Sean Combs, DJ Junior Vasquez, Chris Beckman (Real World Chicago); Mario Cantone (Sex and the City); Sam Champion (WABC-TV); Phil Donahue and Marlo Thomas; Peter Gaitens (Flesh and Blood); Mariska Hargitay and Chris Meloni (Law & Order: SVU); Judith Light; Cynthia McFadden (ABC News); Kimberly Newsom (Court TV); Cynthia Nixon; supermodel Ines Rivero; Ben Shenkman; Christopher Sieber; and independent film producer Christine Vachon.
Executive Director Joan Garry received the biggest ovation of all. Garry thanked all the winners for telling their stories. “When America hears our stories, they will stand for what is fair.”
Garry told her own story. She and her partner Eileen have been together 18 years. Their daughter is the first child in New Jersey to be declared the legal child of both members of a same-sex partnership. In spite of that, Eileen’s mother not only doesn’t recognize their relationship, she has never uttered Joan’s name.
And so we left this star-studded evening feeling the need to tell our stories to protect our civil rights, to elect members of our community and our allies, and to make sure that America knows that what we are fighting for is not just gay rights, but human rights.