GLAAD Media Awards Honors Kelly Ripa, Thomas Roberts, Sports Illustrated

Andy Kropa/Invision/AP
Kelly Ripa

Laverne Cox, Jonathan Groff, Jeffrey Tambor, Judith Light, Ty Herndon and more chart the do's and don'ts of LGBT media coverage: "Our stories are valuable, and covering them responsibly can save lives."

"If the world is a cafeteria, we're the closest we've ever been to sitting at the cool kids' table — screw that, we are the cool kids' table!" shouted host Ross Matthews at Saturday night's GLAAD Media Awards, an evening that honored those producing fair, accurate, and inclusive representations of LGBT news.

At the Waldorf Astoria New York, Anderson Cooper presented the Excellence in Media Award to advocate Kelly Ripa, who produces Logo's Secret Guide to Fabulous and is, according to Cooper, "a morning show host who is gleefully recounting a Saturday night dancing in a gay club — even the gay ones don't do that!"

Yet Ripa found it odd that she was being celebrated "for treating people like people," she said onstage, humbly thanking the community for their lessons in humanity. "The LGBT community has led the way in treating people like people. Oftentimes, those who are discriminated against are the most empathetic and the most inclusive. Quite frankly, I should be giving this award to all of you."

Lynda Carter gave the Vito Russo Award to MSNBC anchor Thomas Roberts, who paused his speech to prevent tears when discussing his suicide attempt at fifteen years old. "People like me were considered immoral at best, a joke, and being it meant being an outcast," he said. "Coming out wasn't without its missteps, but after a storm, you can hope for a rainbow — or in my case, a colorful peacock."

Sports Illustrated won the Outstanding Magazine Overall Coverage honor, which managing editor Chris Stone accepted alongside athletes Jason Collins and Michael Sam, "whom this award really belongs to," said Stone, for "their courage, eloquence and willingness to be voices and faces for issues the sports world is only beginning to face, and not always well. ... We promise to tell the stories of those who come after you."

Many media outlets are just learning how to cover the community's news responsibly. "Things are changing rapidly, and if I were a reporter, I wouldn't mess around because of public opinion — you can't get away with ignorance and nonsense now," Jeffrey Tambor told The Hollywood Reporter. "If you're in media right now, you gotta have your heart and your intelligence in the right place, or you will perish. Because the millennials, they're smart and they won't let you get away with it.

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt's Tituss Burgess also noted, "What's annoying is we're talking about it as if it's something new! Stop making it a 'special story' and just write about it all the time, like you write about who's wearing what." And Ross Matthews admitted he "rolls his eyes" when the gay community is solely described as "flamboyant" and visually represented with the more outlandish images from Pride celebrations.

Specifically of trans stories, Laverne Cox told THR that she disdains when outlets zoom in on people's surgeries, "because that keeps us from focusing on the humanity and lived experiences of us beyond our bodies, and often becomes the only takeaway — that annoys me. ... Our stories are valuable, and covering them responsibly can save lives."

Plus, "there are many ways of being trans — not everyone who comes out is an expert on transgender identity, and often they get microphones shoved in their faces. We should avoid making people who happen to be trans into media stars," warned GLAAD national board chair Jenny Boylan. And GLAAD CEO Sarah Kate Ellis noted the confusion of pronouns, especially when reporting on the recent murders within the transgender community. "In the news, they're misgendered. so it's like a final piece of disrespect to that person. We're trying to make sure they're still respected after they pass away."

Still, Judith Light praised Bruce Jenner, as well as his publicists, Diane Sawyer and the interview's producers for the exemplary coverage of the community: "It was a teachable moment and it's going to become a reference point for a long time."

The evening also included a standing ovation for shooting survivor Kristene Chapa, a surprise appearance by Empire's Jussie Smollett, a Ty Herndon performance and Jonathan Groff's spontaneous attempt to imitate Burgess' "Peeno Noir" success with a "Chardonnay" song: "BeyonceRihanna — nay, Tituss works for Tina Fey, and Tituss is a great f—ing lay."

See more of the evening's winners below:

Outstanding Talk Show Episode: "Pepe Julian Onziema" Last Week Tonight with John Oliver

Outstanding TV Journalism Segment: "Fired for Being Gay?" MSNBC Live (MSNBC) by MSNBC reporter Craig Melvin on Latta, S.C. Police Chief Crystal Moore

Outstanding Film – Limited Release: Lilting (Strand Releasing)

Outstanding Documentary: L Word Mississippi: Hate the Sin (Showtime)

Outstanding Reality Program: R&B Divas: Atlanta (TV One)

Outstanding TV Journalism — Newsmagazine: "Coming Out" Nick News with Linda Ellerbee (Nickelodeon)

Outstanding Newspaper Article: "Longtime Utah LGBT Advocates Recount Brutal History" by Erin Alberty (Salt Lake City Tribune)

Outstanding Magazine Article: "The Transgender Tipping Point" by Katy Steinmetz (Time)

Outstanding Digital Journalism – Multimedia: "Why did the U.S. Lock Up These Women with Men?" by Cristina Costantini, Jorge Rivas, Kristofer Ríos (Fusion.net)

Spanish-language nominees:

Outstanding TV Journalism – Newsmagazine: TIE: "Felipe Najera abre su corazón" Primer Impacto (Univision) and "Orlando Cruz habla de su vida" Al Rojo Vivo (Telemundo)

Outstanding TV Journalism Segment: "La historia de una [mujer] transexual" Café CNN (CNN en Español)

Outstanding Newspaper Article: "Mamá, soy homosexual dijo Ricardo; su familia no entendió y lo corrió de su casa" by Selene Rivera (Hoy Los Angeles)

Outstanding Digital Journalism Article: "Identidades invisibles" [serie] by Marcos Billy Guzmán (ElNuevoDia.com)

Outstanding Digital Journalism – Multimedia: "¿Que es ENDA?" by Cary Tabares (Univision.com)

The GLAAD Media Awards New York were presented by Delta Air Lines, Hilton, Ketel One Vodka and Wells Fargo.

Twitter: @cashleelee

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