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Amid the growing attacks against LGBTQ+ people — particularly the trans community — currently going on in the U.S., this year’s GLAAD Media Awards took on a particularly urgent tone Thursday night in Beverly Hills, and one that brought it home to Hollywood as well.
After Jennifer Coolidge and Jane Lynch kicked off the show, followed by host Margaret Cho celebrating the news of Donald Trump’s indictment, A League of Their Own showrunner Will Graham got real when accepting the show’s award for outstanding new TV series.
Nominated against shows including Queer as Folk, Willow and The Sandman, Graham told the crowd at the Beverly Hilton, “It would be strange to accept this award without commenting on the fact that this show is one of the lucky ones, and that so many of the shows that were nominated in this category have been canceled or quietly canceled, and that mirrors what’s happening with queer stories across our society and in our classrooms.”
“I hope that all of us on this stage and all of us in this room can say to our industry that we are the audience that is growing. We are not a niche anymore, there’s way too many of us,” he continued. “The days that you can hold a Pride event and cancel our shows at the same time has to be over. The days when you can sit on the sidelines while people debate our right to exist are over. We are here, our lives matter, our joy matters, and we will remember who stood with us and who stood back at this crucial moment in our history.”
Aside from handing out 15 awards to TV shows, movies, musicians, books and journalists who reflected fair, accurate and inclusive representations of LGBTQ people and issues, the event also handed out three special honors to Bad Bunny, Christina Aguilera and Jeremy Pope.
Ricky Martin was on hand to present the Vanguard Award to Bad Bunny, praising that “the most streamed artist in history is loudly standing with trans women and the entire community” and letting “the LGBTQ people dance, sing love and live lives authentically. That could not be more important right now.”
Bad Bunny, speaking in Spanish, thanked the “whole LGBTQ community for embracing me, for loving me the way they do, and for inspiring me too.”
“I always say I don’t do anything expecting an award, I don’t do music for an award, I don’t do videos, my appearance [for an award]. I do everything because of how I feel and that’s all I have done,” the star said. “I believe that following my heart has led me to where I am, following my heart has brought me here receiving this award, surrounded by such beautiful people. I believe that when you have a good heart and you give love, that’s what you receive back, and that’s what I’ve wanted to do all this time with my music, with what I represent, with my space, with my concerts, with my shows, with all I do, that’s all I want to do. Give and receive love.”
Aguilera, who received the Advocate for Change Award from Club Q shooting survivor Michael Anderson, said she grew up surrounded by the LGBTQ community and “side-by-side we’ve learned and taught each other everything about life, from business to relationships to music, family, partying — I don’t know who does it better — and of course, how to give a good blow job. We know how to get dirty!” as the crowd burst into laughs.
“When you’ve been a victim of violence, abuse or trauma, it is incredibly hard and scary to find your voice and fight back. Having grown up in a home with domestic violence, it was seeing my mom in a powerless position that first ignited the fire in me to speak up for all of the people whose voices don’t get heard,” she added. “We all need to raise our voices if we want to live in a world that’s free of discrimination, hate and violence. I feel so grateful tonight because for me, it’s not about winning awards or being honored — it’s nice though, thank you — but my greater purpose is to use the platform I have to change lives for the better.”
Pope closed out the night in receiving the Stephen F. Kolzak Award from The Inspection co-star Gabrielle Union, saying, “We know that we are targeted, our trans brothers and sisters; our rights seem to be at stake and at times I find my heart wrestling with this idea of ‘How do I know that is going to be OK?’ But it’s rooms like this that remind me of the power of this community, the power of love, how we will rise time and time again for each other.”
He continued, “I want you to know that we are beautiful, we are chosen for greatness, all of us chosen to use our time on this earth to plant seeds of prosperity and ideas of a better tomorrow for the next generation of warriors.” The 34th annual GLAAD Media Awards also featured special performances from Fletcher and Orville Peck, the latter of whom performed a tribute for the late Leslie Jordan. The show will be available to stream on Hulu starting April 12.
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