By Julie Bolcer
Originally published on Advocate.com March 15 2010 8:55 AM ET
Will Phillips, the 11-year-old Arkansas boy who refuses to say the pledge of allegiance at school until gays and lesbians have full equality, stole the show with his acceptance speech addressed to President Barack Obama at the GLAAD Media Awards in New York City on Saturday.
Phillips took the stage at the Times Square Marriott accompanied by his parents to accept the award for Outstanding TV Journalism Segment for “Why Will Won’t Pledge Alliance” on CNN. Comedian Sandra Bernhard and actress Sarah Paulson presented the award.
Uncommonly poised, mature, and cerebral, the fifth-grader wowed the audience with remarks that included a “message for President Obama” asking the leader to use his “bully pulpit” to advance gay rights.
“My voice is small, but has gone far, and with hope has done much good,” said Phillips. “I think the bully pulpit of your office could go farther and with help do much more.”
“Thank you again, and to quote a great modern day thinker, ‘Live long and prosper,’” said Phillips, as he gave the Vulcan salute popularized by Mr. Spock on Star Trek.
Video of Phillips’s speech will be forthcoming from GLAAD. Check Advocate.com later today.
The speech from Phillips capped a GLAAD Media Awards marked by seriousness of purpose and the traditional glamour. In addition to celebrities, speakers included Elke Kennedy, the mother of Sean Kennedy, the young South Carolina gay man beaten to death outside a gay bar in 2008, and Patrick Burke, the brother of deceased openly gay hockey player, Brendan Burke. Patrick accepted the award for Outstanding Digital Journalism Article for “We Love You, This Won’t Change a Thing” written by John Buccigross for ESPN.
GLAAD president Jarrett Barrios told Advocate.com that the evening represented an evolution in the mission of GLAAD as he discussed the organization’s work on the red carpet before the awards show.
“It’s time for us to tell GLAAD’s story, what GLAAD does, how we try to impact America,” said Barrios. “That’s not through lobbying, that’s not through court cases. We try to impact America through helping LGBT Americans achieve equality by amplifying their voices. We help people understand, respect, and accept gay America. That is where equality ultimately comes from.”