A recap of the SF GLAAD Media Awards and why going next year is a must.
If you missed the San Francisco GLAAD Media Awards, let us give you a recap.
The awards show opened up to a video montage of LGBT media coverage over the past year, both positive and negative, reflecting our wins and setbacks towards equality. LGBT advocates spoke out about the issues closest to their hearts and the impact GLAAD has had in amplifying their voices, from Jennifer Tyrrell, a mom who was fired from her voluntary Cub Scout leader position after the Boy Scouts of America found out she was gay, to Brittany McMillan, the 17-year-old founder of Spirit Day, to Janet Mock, editor of People.com, author and trans advocate, to Zach Wahls, founder of LGBT non-profit, Out to Dinner, and powerful LGBT ally who spoke out in the Iowa courts in defense of same-sex marriage and the love between his family and his two moms.
The GLAAD Media Awards host, Dianna Agron, best known for her role as Quinn from Glee, gave us her gay timeline. Starting from elementary school, she told us about a young boy named George in her ballet class who was uninterested in partnering with the girls, but who lit up around professional male ballerinas. Kid Agron didn’t yet understand that George was gay. Moving forward to her junior year of high school, Agron attended San Francisco Pride where she learned a lot more about the male anatomy and saw for the first time the pride and sense of liberation expressed by the LGBT community. To present day, Agron told us that 75 percent of her friends are gay, and like everybody who she brings into her life, they are amazing, vibrant and bursting from the seams with compassion for others.
Agron also gave away her kiss, auctioning her lips to the highest bidder. GLAAD volunteers raised Star Wars light sabers into the air each time Agron’s bidders raised the stakes. A woman in the back of the room battled a young man near the stage, and although he outbid her and we didn’t get to see the girl-on-girl kiss, Agron definitely made it worth every cent of the $5,500. Agron stepped toward the winner, put her hands on his face and pulled him toward her, kissing him long enough for us to imagine how much hotter it would have been if she were kissing a girl, especially after she announced to the audience that she’s kissed girls before.
Unscripted, Rita Moreno, who plays Anita in West Side Story and is the only Hispanic actor to have won an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and a Tony, threw drinks and canapés at her place for up to eight people into the auctioning arena. Upping the ante as the audience bid, she passionately yelled, “I’ll show you my belly button” and “I’ll moon you!” Moreno raised $15,000 for GLAAD.
Cirque du Soleil gave an incredible performance of their show, . The ambience evoked the fantastical side of Pan’s Labyrinth, mixed with the eroticism between Jane and Serena’s aerial act in The Gymnast.
Beverly McClellan, season one finalist from The Voice, closed the show, performing some of her favorite covers and an original song from her latest album, Fear Nothing.
The San Francisco GLAAD Media Awards was definitely glam-filled, but it went beyond the glitter of celebrity and showed us the power, the importance and the impact of seeing ourselves reflected in the media, and the power that each of us has in using our voices to shape the media.
The awards show was both moving and entertaining, the dinner was lezlicious and the after party was free flowing with adult beverages and dancing, but let’s not forget the red carpet.
We got to chat to with the recipient of the Golden Gate Award, Shonda Rhimes, creator of Grey’s Anatomy (winner of Outstanding Drama Series), Private Practice and new show, Scandal. Rhimes shared with us how rewarding it is to create storylines that resonate deeply with the LGBT community.
“You know what’s been wonderful—is hearing a lot about people who said that the show gave them the language to come out to their parents. To me that was really powerful. And also that the show gave people’s parents a language to speak to them in. You know, people saying like, ‘I didn’t understand what you meant when you said you were gay until I watched it on Grey’s Anatomy,’ is the most powerful thing I could imagine and [that’s] really moving and humbling for me.”
We also caught up with the cast of Pretty Little Liars, who were nominated for Outstanding Drama Series. Ashley Benson, who plays Hanna, told us how important it is to have LGBT storylines in mainstream TV. “I think it’s so important to talk about that subject and to not be afraid to have it on a television show for teenagers. The more that we put it out there and the more that it’s OK, then kids will finally be able to be comfortable with themselves, and to accept who they are and to celebrate it.”
Shay Mitchell, who plays Emily, a character who is out to her friends and family (and a former Curve cover girl), told us how honored she felt for Pretty Little Liars to be nominated for a GLAAD award. “It’s one thing to entertain people, but it’s another thing to actually change lives, and even in some cases, save lives.”
We also caught up with Janet Mock whose article, “The Secret I Don’t Want to Keep Anymore,” was nominated for Outstanding Magazine Article. Moved to make a difference after hearing about the series of suicides from LGBT youth, Mock came out to the public as a trans woman in her article for Marie Claire. Mock shared with us her gratitude for a GLAAD award nomination. “It’s obviously an amazing experience and it’s incredibly humbling that my story has resonated with people and that it has also gained some recognition. I don’t think it’s a huge story, but for me it was a big step to come forward and kind of shed my invisibility and to say that I’m here and that I’m living visibly and that I’m a trans woman and I’m proud.”
Pride was definitely the theme for the night. We got to talk to 17-year-old Brittany McMillan, the founder of Spirit Day—which she founded at 15. Now people all over the world wear purple on October 20 to show their support for LGBT youth and their opposition to bullying.
We asked McMillan what advice she has for LGBT youth who want to make a difference like she has. “Don’t be afraid to stand up for what you believe in, and if you see something going on that doesn’t sit right with you, you shouldn’t just sit back. You should stand up and raise your voice.”
The GLAAD Media Awards is like a big gay concert, except you get chummy with celebs and LGBT advocates, filling a room of hundreds of people who support you. The perks: You are fed a three-course meal, have access to an open bar and witness a red carpet live. So it’s just like a concert, but better and a thousand times gayer. Like an Olivia Cruise and Dinah Shore, the GLAAD Media Awards should be on your lesbian bucket list. Whether you choose Los Angeles, New York or San Francisco, plan accordingly for 2013, and be sure to buy your tickets for the 24th annual GLAAD Media Awards show. (glaad.org)
This article was originally published on Curvemag.com. Out of all my Curve Magazine articles, both print and online, this may be my favorite piece. I love how it takes something like TV, celebrity and entertainment and pulls pieces of that “glam” in, but also really touches upon the impact that GLAAD makes to amplify our voices, to support media where the queer community is portrayed accurately, to call out media where we’re portrayed inaccurately and to help form our culture into a positive one.
GLAAD does amazing work. I definitely recommend checking out their website for news updates, getting involved, volunteering, donating and spreading the word about what they do.