By Advocate.com Editors
Originally published on Advocate.com April 23 2012 10:45 PM ET
An unexpected appearance by Cher to present her son Chaz Bono with the Stephen F. Kolzak Award was just one highlight of the 23rd Annual GLAAD Media Awards in Los Angeles on Saturday night.
Ellen DeGeneres opened the show with a hilarious monologue, during which she spotted Betty White in the audience. "Betty White," DeGeneres called from the stage. "I didn't know you were gay. Welcome sister!"
Cher surprised both her son and his stepmother, Rep. Mary Bono Mack, in presenting him with the award which is given to an openly LGBT media professional who has made a significant difference in promoting equality.
"I'm here because Chaz has the most courage of almost anyone I know," Cher said from the stage before being joined by Bono. "The other day I was having a big meltdown (like you do) and Chaz said, 'Are you going to come to the [GLAAD event],' and I went 'Chaz, you know, I'm not doing well right now' and…he texted me and said 'I turned into a very understanding, smart man and you can call on me.' And it made me feel so good, like I could lean on someone. It touched my heart." Cher then addressed her son directly and said, "You are the most courageous person I know and you really deserve this award, so come up and get this award!"
Bono, who once served as GLAAD's entertainment media director, discussed the role the organziation has played in his life. "This truly means so much to me, because not only did I work at GLAAD, I think I learned everything that I value and that I do now as an activist from the time I spent at GLAAD," Bono said. "I learned here to use the greatest activist tool that we have at our disposal, and that is the media." Bono continued, "For my personal journey since I transitioned, GLAAD has been there for me every step of the way. From when it first came out that I was transitioning, GLAAD was right there, out front in the media. And really everything that I've done since then, they have been a partner for me to be able to go to when Million Moms is coming out against me or Keith Ablow is telling people that me being on Dancing with the Stars is somehow going to be damaging to children. They have really been a partner for me all the way."
In one of the evening's most poignant moments, Tim and Tracy Rodemeyer, along with their daughter Alyssa, spoke from the stage to the over 400 young adults in attendance, in memory of their 14-year-old son Jamey who died by suicide in the fall of 2011 after posting an It Gets Better video on YouTube.
Celebrities who attended include Betty White, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Tabatha Coffey, Joshua Jackson, Molly Shannon, George Kotsiopoulos, Milla Jovovich, Benicio Del Toro, and Glee's Max Adler and Grant Gustin. The Media Awards were sponsored by Ketel One vodka, who donated $1000 to GLAAD for every celebrity who put their handprint in cement on the Ketel One 'Walk of Change.'
For a full list of award recipients go here.