Vanessa Williams, Stockard Channing, Cherry Jones, T.R. Knight, Keith Olbermann, Judith Light, Clay Aiken and S. Epatha Merkerson were among the celebrities who joined the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) as it honored Tyra Banks, Suze Orman, Phil Donahue and the best in film, television and journalism Saturday night at the 20th Annual GLAAD Media Awards in New York.
GLAAD, the nation’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) media advocacy and anti-defamation organization, presented the GLAAD Media Awards to recognize and honor media for their fair, accurate and inclusive representations of the LGBT community and the issues that affect their lives.
At the ceremony, singer Clay Aiken presented the Excellence in Media Award to Tyra Banks, for her strong commitment to educating the public about the lives of gay and transgender people on her talk show, “The Tyra Banks Show,” and on her reality series, “America’s Next Top Model.” The Excellence in Media Award is presented to individuals who, “through their work, have increased the visibility and understanding of the LGBT community in the media,” according to GLAAD.
”[The LGBT community] empowered me,” Tyra said in her acceptance speech. “And in turn, when I finally had a platform, and a power, and a voice – no longer just a face, but a voice – to get across the points and the messages that were important to me, I brought you along with me. Because you embraced me and now I embrace you in front of millions to show how beautiful you are, how absolutely amazing you are, how giving you are. And I will continue to do that as long as I have a platform. I will continue to get the message out about gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people.”
Also at the event, “Grey’s Anatomy” star T.R. Knight presented the Vito Russo Award to personal finance expert Suze Orman, host of CNBC’s “The Suze Orman Show.” The Vito Russo Award is presented to an openly lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender media professional who has made a significant difference in promoting equal rights for the LGBT community.
“I want every single one of you in this room to take note of what corporations put their time and money behind gays, behind lesbians – behind you,” Suze said accepting her award. “Do you want to continue to give your money to people in corporations that oppress us, that keep us down? Or do you want to give your money to the corporations who can help us rise and change what needs to be changed in the United States of America today. I ask you to honor those corporations not only with your support but with your money as well. We can do this - and here’s how you’re going to do it. You are going to think about every single penny you spend from this day forward. And the only think I ask of you is to spend it and invest it in those companies that invest in you.”
Actress Cherry Jones presented a Special Recognition Award to Phil Donahue, who was the honoree at the first GLAAD Media Awards in 1990.
“It’s unbelievable to think about the power and the warp speed of this revolution,” Phil said during his acceptance. “Twenty years ago when I proudly accepted the first GLAAD Media Award…it was a very small crowd. There are more photographers here tonight than there were people then…. And now, we look up in 2009, and [the LGBT community] is popular. The majority of the people in the nation agree with us. Our job now is to summon these people to stand up and say so out loud. To tell them to join us. To march the lavender line with us down Fifth Avenue, and to remind them, when they do join us, they’re going to meet a lot of nice people.”
Additional awards will be presented in Los Angeles on April 18 at the Nokia Theatre L.A. Live, where comedian and “My Life On The D List” star Kathy Griffin will be presented with GLAAD’s Vanguard Award. Also, in San Francisco on May 9, actor and activist Chad Allen will be honored.
The following is a complete list of GLAAD Media Award recipients announced Saturday in New York:
Excellence in Media Award: Tyra Banks
Vito Russo Award: Suze Orman
Special Recognition Award: Phil Donahue
Special Recognition Award: “The Laramie Project, 10 Years Later - The Lasting Legacy of Matthew Shepard”
Outstanding Film – Limited Release: TIE: “Noah’s Arc: Jumping the Broom” (Logo Features/New Open Door Productions) and “Shelter” (Regent Releasing)
Outstanding Documentary: “A Jihad For Love” (First Run Features)
Outstanding Daily Drama: “As the World Turns” (CBS)
Outstanding TV Journalism Segment: “Special Comment: Gay Marriage is a Question of Love” “Countdown with Keith Olbermann” (MSNBC)
Outstanding Newspaper Article: “Owning His Gay Identity – at 15 Years Old” by Theresa Vargas (The Washington Post)
Outstanding Newspaper Columnist: Leonard Pitts, Jr. (The Miami Herald)
Outstanding Newspaper Overall Coverage: The New York Times
Outstanding Magazine Article: “Let God Love Gene Robinson” by Andrew Corsello (GQ)
Outstanding Magazine Overall Coverage: Newsweek
Outstanding Digital Journalism Article: “Gay Athletes Are Making Their Mark” by LZ Granderson (ESPN.com)
Outstanding Digital Journalism – Multimedia: “Is Gay the New Black?” by Jessica Bennett and Jennifer Molina (Newsweek.com)
Outstanding Music Artist: k.d. lang, “Watershed”
Outstanding Comic Book: “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” by Drew Goddard, Jeph Loeb and Joss Whedon (Dark Horse Comics)
Outstanding New York Theater: Broadway & Off-Broadway: “Wig Out!” by Tarell Alvin McCraney