Comedy show “Schitt’s Creek,” late-night host Lilly Singh, drama series “Star Trek: Discovery” and music artist Sam Smith were among the winners at this year’s GLAAD Awards Ceremony.
Giant streaming Netflix topped it with three wins: Ryan Murphy’s film adaptation of “The Boys in the Band” won an award for an outstanding limited-edition film; “Disclosure,” about a Hollywood portrayal of transgender people, won an award for outstanding documentary; and “She-Ra & Princesses of Power” linked Hulu’s “First Day” in the Outstanding Programming for Kids and Family category.
The LGBTQ advocacy group GLAAD has been holding an annual event for more than three decades in honor of the fair, accurate and inclusive representation of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people in the media.
This year’s virtual event, hosted by actor Niecy Nash, aired on YouTube on Thursday night. There were nearly 200 nominees in 28 categories, including an outstanding music performer, an outstanding video game, and an outstanding drama series.
“Movies and TV shows are like machines for empathy,” GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis said during the ceremony. “What people see and hear in the media affects the decisions we make in schools, offices, living rooms, courtrooms and on ballot boxes. It’s not about embarrassing or canceling anyone. It’s about seizing the moment to educate and create responsibility.”
In addition to celebrating the winners, the ceremony highlighted urgent issues affecting the LGBTQ community, such as the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, HIV awareness, and the epidemic of violence against color transgender women.
Disclosure executive producer Laverne Cox sent a message of hope to the trans community in her acceptance speech.
“We’re looking for people who will move more from acceptance to radical acceptance, to radical self-love,” said Cox, best known for starring in the film “Orange is the New Black”. “To the young people who are just watching, we want you to know that you are anointed, that despite all the attacks that can happen to you, you are divine. You deserve to be. You are here for a reason. He must survive to fulfill that divine purpose.”
Teenage YouTube sensation JoJo Siwa, who hit the headlines this year after revealing she was gay, sent a special message to LGBTQ youth before awarding the Elmo doll from “Sesame Street” an award for outstanding children’s programming.
“Somehow it’s important that people my age can look at me and say,‘ Hey, I know someone who’s LGBTQ and she’s really, really happy, ’” Siwa, 17, said. Especially LGBTQ children who do not live in safe or acceptable environments. … It’s just a great honor for me to have a platform to tell everyone, ‘Be what you are, love the one you love and do it with pride.’ “
In its annual report “Where We Are on TV” this year, GLAAD found that LGBTQ visibility has dropped by 33 percent on cable, 13 percent on streaming services and just over 1 percent on network television in the current TV season. The organization attributed the decline to a halt in production due to the pandemic.
“Hopefully it’s just a failure, not the beginning of a trend,” Ellis said at the time, suggesting the overall decline is largely due to lower emissions. “Content is more important than ever and has a bigger impact than ever. So for us, we’re thrilled that the decline wasn’t as big as it could have been. But if all things are the same, then even if the amount of programming decreases, representation wouldn’t bold. “
Although overall LGBTQ representation declined, the racial diversity of queer characters increased: for the first time in the history of the report, there were more LGBTQ people on screen than white LGBTQ characters, and people made up 53 percent of regular and recurring LGBTQ characters in shows, 52 percent in cable shows and 47 percent in streaming platform originals.
Thursday’s GLAAD Media Awards included performances by Dan Levy, Katy Perry and Wilson Cruz, along with performances by Grammy-nominated rapper Chika, YouTube star Rebecca Black and singer-songwriter Jessica Betts (who married Niecy Nash last year). The cast of “Glee” also practically gathered for a special tribute to the late actor Nayi Riveri, who played lesbian cheerleader Santana Lopez on the hit show Fox.
The full list of GLAAD Media Award winners can be found on the organization’s website, and the ceremony can be viewed on request at Hulu until June.
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