Pride, progress and
anticipation marked the 20th annual
GLAAD Media Awards
on Saturday night in New York City, where the Gay and Lesbian
Alliance Against Defamation celebrated outstanding achievements
in film, television and journalism. Awards announced in 19
categories included special honors and recognition for Tyra
Banks, Suze Orman and Phil Donahue.
The awards, established
in 1990, recognize and honor media for their fair, accurate and
inclusive representations of the LGBT community and the issues
that affect their lives. Attendees reflected on two decades of
history throughout the milestone ceremony at the Marriot
Marquis in Times Square.
"I started with them
in Los Angeles 20 years ago," said Judith Light, star of the
, on the red carpet prior to the awards show. "We used to do
it in a little tiny hotel room, and there were just about ten
tables. This now is phenomenal. It's such a
co-star Vanessa Williams echoed that sense of achievement to
"Our acting staff,
and our entire cast and crew, I think we embody exactly what
GLAAD was invented for," said Williams.
Among the pioneers
recognized on Saturday night was Emmy Award-winning talk show
host Phil Donahue, whom actress Cherry Jones introduced as a
"personal hero" and "all-around nice guy."
Donahue urged the crowd
of hundreds to focus on making alliances as the next step in
the movement for equality.
"In 2009, we're
popular," said the heterosexual talk legend. "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," he
Prior to the show, the
openly gay Jones chatted about the rigors of her ongoing role
as President Alison Taylor on the Fox series,
"What I know is, it's
no easier pleasing the nation as a play-pretend president than
it is as a real president," she said. "I wish we could work
in a little health care reform next year."
Later, financial guru
Suze Orman dispensed her trademark, no-nonsense advice for
tough economic times upon receiving the Vito Russo Award for
outstanding contributions toward eliminating homophobia. She
energized the crowd with a proposal of gay pocketbook activism
as a strategy to defeat prejudice.
"You are going to
think about every single penny you spend from this day
forward," she said. "And the only thing I ask of you is to
spend it and invest it in those companies that invest in
Orman also challenged
the characterization of her coming out in the
New York Times Magazine
"Deborah Solomon -
she irritated the hell out of me," Orman said of the
journalist who wrote the profile revealing she was gay. "Let
me tell you why. I was never in the closet. She just didn't
know. So she thought she was making news."
Tyra Banks, creator and host of
America's Next Top Model
on the CW, received the Excellence in Media Award for
increasing visibility and understanding of the LGBT community.
veteran Clay Aiken introduced her.
Banks spoke of the
connections between homophobia and racism, and she credited the
gay community for her rise to stardom during her acceptance
"You empowered me,
and in turn, when I finally had a platform and the power and a
voice to get across the points and the messages that are
important to me, I brought you along with me, because you
embraced me," she said.
supermodel also apologized for bringing the word "fierce"
to such widespread popularity, and she petitioned the crowd to
help her generate a substitute.
"I know people are so
tired of it, and I apologize for overusing it, I so apologize
for overexposing it," she said. "So, we're gonna fit it in
a little bit of a retirement folder, and I am taking suggests
for the new 'fierce.'"
Fans may not want to
send suggestions via Twitter, however. Banks confessed on the
red carpet to being in need of a tweeting lesson from her pals,
Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore.
"They're explaining to me what the Twitter thing is,
and that I need to get on the bandwagon," Banks said.
"They say that I'm so ancient times that I'm not
Also on Saturday night, Stockard Channing issued a special
recognition to Sirius XM Radio for "The Laramie Project,
10 Years Later - The Lasting Legacy of Matthew Shepard."
Other presenters and
guests at the GLAAD Media Awards included Keith Olbermann, T.R.
Knight, Tim Gunn, S. Epatha Merkerson, Ana Ortiz, Michael Urie,
David Mixner, Chris Noth, Heather Matarazzo, Jenny Shimizu,
Christian Siriano, Simon Doonan, Jonathan Adler, Van Hansis,
and Jake Silbermann.
Olbermann received the
award for outstanding television journalism segment for his
"special comment" about Proposition 8 on
MSNBC. Upon accepting the award, he read the recent
remarks from Republican strategist Steve Schmidt voicing
support for marriage equality.
"One down, a couple
of million to go," Olbermann said.
Additional GLAAD Media
Awards ceremonies will be held in Los Angeles on April 18 and
in San Francisco on May 9.