PHOTOS: Celebrities Share Messages of Hope, Inspiration on GLAAD's Red Carpet

By Jase Peeples

Originally published on Advocate.com April 14 2014 5:12 PM ET

From global superstar allies like Jennifer Lopez and Naomi Campbell to out trailblazers like Laverne Cox and Ross Mathews, the 2014 GLAAD Media Awards celebrated its 25th anniversary in Los Angeles on Saturday with a wide variety of soldiers in the battle for LGBT equality.

A joyful energy flowed through the lobby of Beverly Hills’s landmark Beverly Hilton hotel from the moment the first attendees began to arrive. Celebrity guests shined on the red carpet as they shared personal stories of celebration for the progress that has been made, hopes for the future, and the continued importance of positive depictions of LGBT people in all forms of media.


Laverne Cox
On the first trans image in media that positively impacted her:
“Seeing Candis Cayne in 2007 as the first trans woman to have a reoccurring role on a prime-time TV series in Dirty Sexy Money was such an impactful moment for me. After that moment I did a mass mailing, I got an agent, and soon I booked my first appearance on Law & Order. I didn’t believe it was possible before Candis. Because of her, I started to believe, and I wouldn’t be here today without her.”


Naomi Campbell
On the impact LGBT people have had on her life and career:
“I feel lucky to have been surrounded by gay people throughout my career. I love them and they’re my family. I’m honored and blessed to be welcomed and supported by the community, because I wouldn’t be where I am today without them.”


Paul Katami and Jeff Zarrillo (Plaintiffs in the challenge to Propostion 8, argued at the U.S. Supreme Court)
On the importance of positive LGBT images in media:
Jeff Zarrillo: “The way our community is portrayed in media has and always will be an important. I remember watching Vice President Joe Biden speak so eloquently on Meet the Press about Will & Grace, the impact that show had on our community and how it helped to move us forward by changing hearts and minds. When I was growing up, I remember seeing the Billy Douglas storyline on One Life to Live and the TV movies like Doing Time on Maple Drive. The family reactions to the gay characters in those stories wasn’t positive, and that impacted me as a teen who wasn’t out yet, because I didn’t want to see reactions like that.
Paul Katami: "Today, we’re seeing more positive images than ever before, and we know that’s critical to moving our community forward, because our struggles and our stories are a part of real life. That’s why we’re so thankful for an organization like GLAAD that not only celebrates our images in the media, but also helps guide the language that moves our cause forward.”


Wilson Cruz (GLAAD Spokesman)
On advice to those who want to be an outspoken LGBT ally:
“We as a community don’t ask very much of our allies, we just ask that you stand with us and that’s really easy to do. Simply hug your LGBT brothers and sisters, love them. Vote with us when our rights are on the ballot. Tell all your friends and family members that you support us because that’s how we spread the word and we spread love.”


David Millbern (Actor-Producer, From Here on Out)
On continuing the fight for positive LGBT visibility in media:
“It’s so important to remember the history of LGBT people in media is ongoing. We owe so much to those who came before us, but it’s our responsibility to keep creating images that are authentic and true to us so that young people feel supported, they are represented, and they can grow into a world that’s ready to accept them for who they are.”


Ross Mathews (Hello Ross)
On what drives him to be a visible out person in the media:
“What drives me is to make sure that it’s different for kids now then it was for me growing up. I used to watch TV and I would never see anything that said to me, you can be a happy, openly gay, successful grown-up. It wasn’t represented, and so everything I’ve done has been to try to give kids now someone to look at and say, ‘I can be whoever, whatever I am, and I can be happy.’”


Meghan McCain (Raising McCain, daughter of U.S. Sen. John McCain)
On her passion for being an LGBT ally:
“Being an ally is unbelievably important to me, and the LGBT movement has become such a passion of mine. I really do believe it is the civil rights movement of my generation, and a night like tonight is great because we’re celebrating how far we’ve come, but it’s also a reminder that the fight needs to be ongoing.”


Guy Wilson (Days of Our Lives)
On playing a gay character and being an outspoken LGBT ally:
Playing Will Horton on Days means so much to me. I believe entertainment is one of the places where new frontiers are being conquered. So to be a part of that and to have an opportunity to be as young as I am and play a character that is a beacon of hope for some people — I couldn’t be more grateful. I’m so thankful to have an opportunity to add another voice to a cause that I care about on a personal level.”


Charlie Condou (at right; out actor on British drama Coronation Street)
On homophobia in Hollywood:
I’m really surprised by the level of homophobia that still exists here in Hollywood. I’ve been here for a week, and I had dinner with a big movie star and his boyfriend, and he is not out because of fear. I also had lunch with a daytime soap star and his boyfriend, and they are also not out because of fear. I find that really surprising because I’m very out in my career at home. I’m with my partner, we go out together, we have children and it’s never been an issue. I’m particularly surprised to see there’s so much fear surrounding gay people here in Los Angeles. It’s a shame.”


Peter Paige (Creator and executive producer of The Fosters, second from right)
On young fans of The Fosters:
“To see how teens have received The Fosters — to win a Teen Choice Award — and to know that teens have embraced this family with such passion really moves me. I don’t think they even bat an eye that there are two moms in this show. They just see it and say, ‘Oh, that’s just like my family’ or ‘That’s how I fight with my brother or sister’ or ‘Lena is just like my mom.’”


Alex Newell (Glee)
On advice for newly out teens:
“If you have support from even one friend, hold on to them and let them know how much you appreciate them. But furthermore, just know that it’s OK to be who you are regardless, and if someone doesn’t like you for being you, that’s their fault.”


Jill Soloway (pictured left -- Creator of Amazon’s Transparent)
On evolving speech to be more respectful of the trans community:
“It’s privilege to struggle with a pronoun. You have to recognize your cis[gender, or nontrans] privilege and realize it takes about five minutes to work something as simple as a pronoun out in your head. For example, I use the pronoun ‘they’ for almost everybody now. I think anyone who complains about being unsure of how to talk to trans people because, ‘Oh, I don’t know what to say — he, she, or they,’ those people need to get over themselves. It’s not that hard.”


DJ Tracy Young
On being a part of the 25th Annual GLAAD Media Awards in Los Angeles:
“It’s amazing to see the transition of what the LGBT community has done over the years socially and politically. To be a part of a night like tonight is an honor and a privilege for me. It’s amazing to see how much GLAAD has grown over the years, and I’m so thankful a group like this is around to help protect us.”