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Sean Hayes Is the Last of the Will & Grace Cast to Get a GLAAD Award

Sean Hayes Is the Last of the Will & Grace Cast to Get a GLAAD Award

Sean Hayes

The actor joked about how the "gay one" is the "last one" in his speech for the Stephen F. Kolzak Award.

Each of the four principal stars of Will & Grace -- NBC's groundbreaking and revived gay sitcom -- has now received a GLAAD Media Award.

Sean Hayes noted the landmark occasion in his acceptance speech Thursday for the Stephen F. Kolzak Award, which is "presented to an openly LGBT media professional who has made a significant difference in promoting equality for our community," according to the LGBTQ media organization.

"Tonight marks the milestone of all four cast members of Will & Grace being honored by GLAAD," Hayes said to the applause of the crowd at the Beverly Hilton in Los Angeles -- before segueing into a comic observation. "And I'm the last one. The gay one. Out of the four."

Hayes, 48, is indeed the last to receive a GLAAD award. Debra Messing received GLAAD's Excellence in Media Award in 2017. Eric McCormack received the Vanguard Award in 2003. Megan Mullally received the Golden Gate Award in 2004.

[Related: Beyonce Got Emotional as She Honored Her Gay Uncle at GLAAD Awards]

Of course, Hayes was not "an openly LGBT media professional" until he came out in a 2010 interview in The Advocate. During the original run of Will & Grace, the actor chose not to discuss his sexual orientation, which may explain why GLAAD waited until 2019 to present him with one of its highest honors.

Hayes referenced his struggle in the closet during his Thursday speech. "I can only imagine what it would be like to go back in time and tell my teenage self about tonight, that not only was it going to be all right being gay, but that 30 years from now, I would stand on a stage and be recognized for making contributions to gay people," Hayes said. "My teenage self would probably say, 'Wow, it's gonna take you that long?'"

Since coming out, Hayes has become an outspoken advocate for the LGBTQ community. He has worked with GLAAD on campaigns like Spirit Day, which supports queer youth, and the Together Movement, which builds an intersectional bridge between historically marginalized communities. Hayes and his husband, Scott Icenogle -- the pair married in 2014 -- also run a popular YouTube channel, The Kitchen Sync, which raises the visibility of a happy same-sex couple through social media.

In a recent interview with The Advocate, Hayes discussed how finally being out on Will & Grace, which was revived in 2017 in response to the presidential election of Donald Trump, was "much easier" for him. "It's more fun. It's more freeing. It's ... not as big of a change, but you're right, there is a little something in there that makes it more special now," he said.

In his GLAAD speech, Hayes thanked his husband as well as the namesake of his award, Stephen F. Kolzak, a casting director who devoted his life to fighting stigma in Hollywood before dying of an AIDS-related illness at age 37. Kolzak, said Hayes, is "an important and poignant reminder that none of us will always be here. We must ask ourselves, as Stephen clearly did, how each of us in our own way can leave a legacy of a more hopeful future for those who follow us."

Watch Hayes's speech, which was introduced by his friend Allison Janney, below.

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