Madonna Joins GLAAD Media Awards to Present Anderson Cooper With Award

Anderson Cooper and Madonna

The pop icon will present the CNN host with the Vito Russo Award, which honors openly gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender media professionals who have made a significant difference in promoting equality.

Anderson Cooper will receive the GLAAD award for openly gay media professionals at the 24th Annual GLAAD Media Awards in NYC March 16, and none other than Madonna will be presenting it to him, the organization announced today.

The Material Girl, 54, and the CNN host are longtime friends, GLAAD says, and they have both used their careers to raise support for the LGBT community worldwide.

"Madonna has been a passionate spokesperson and longtime supporter of gay rights. She has embraced LGBT people around the world on many occasions," says GLAAD president Herndon Graddick. "From speaking out against bullying to raising support for marriage equality, Madonna has always been one of our community's strongest allies. We are honored to have her stand with GLAAD and Anderson Cooper."

Cooper declined for years to speak publicly on his sexual orientation, despite repeated questioning and oftentimes harassment. But last July the anchor gave Daily Beast blogger Andrew Sullivan permission to publish a lengthy email in which he said, "The fact is, I'm gay, always have been, always will be and I couldn’t be any more happy, comfortable with myself and proud."

"By sharing his own experiences as a gay man, Anderson has reminded millions of Americans that LGBT people are part of their everyday lives and an integral part of our cultural fabric," says Graddick. "He continues to raise the bar and set a new standard for journalists everywhere, and I'm proud to call him a friend."

Cooper will receive the Vito Russo Award, which is presented to an openly gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender media professional who has made a significant difference in promoting equality, the organization says. The award gets its name from the GLAAD founder, who chronicled early images of the LGBT community in his film and book, The Celluloid Closet. Ricky Martin, Rosie O'Donnell, Cynthia Nixon, Nathan Lane, Elton John, and Tom Ford are some of the past honored recipients.

The awards will be held at the New York Marriott Marquis on Saturday, March 16.

The anchors of Good Morning America, Lara Spencer, Josh Elliott and Sam Champion will also be joining the evening as hosts. Special guests include NFL players Brendon Ayanbadejo and Chris Kluwe, director Brett Ratner, actress Ellen Barkin, MSNBC's Melissa Harris-Perry and Thomas Roberts, and John Leguizamo.

Nominees for the 24th Annual GLAAD Media Awards were announced in January and are available online. Cooper is also nominated for a segment he did on Anderson Cooper 360, "Controversial Pastor Preaches Against Gays."