Southwest of Salem: The Story of the San Antonio Four won Outstanding Documentary at the 28th Annual GLAAD Media Awards.
The documentary by Deborah Esquenazi told the story of four lesbians — Elizabeth Ramirez, Cassandra Rivera, Kristie Mayhugh, and Anna Vasquez — who were wrongfully convicted in the late 1990s of raping two children in Texas. They served almost 15 years for a crime they did not commit.
The subjects were recently exonerated, in part thanks to the documentary, the media exposure it provided, and evidence revealed therin. They accepted the award from presenter Don Lemon in person at the New York event on Saturday.
Ramirez, in an emotional speech, noted that her presence at the event was thanks to the documentary, as her original sentence would have kept her in prison until the age of 62.
"It’s a testament of the power of filmmaking that shedding light on injustices can create real change," Ramirez said. "LGBTQ people are at least three times more likely to be incarcerated than their straight and gender-conforming counterparts. The San Antonio Four story is a cautionary tale of what happens when homophobia and misogyny and the misuse of science are present in our courts."
Watch the speech, which received a standing ovation, below. And don't miss The Advocate's interview with Esquenazi about the award-winning documentary.