GLAAD Media Awards: Sean Hayes Set for Stephen F. Kolzak Award

Sean Hayes  - Outfest Legacy Awards- H - 2016
Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for Outfest

In the year 2000, Sean Hayes won an Emmy for his work as scene-stealing Jack McFarland on NBC's long-running and later-rebooted Will & Grace. With the win, he earned a place in history as the first actor to win an Emmy for playing an openly gay character. 

At the time, however, Hayes was in the closet and it would be another 10 years before he announced that he was gay. Hayes reflected on his journey while at the podium in October 2016 when he delivered an acceptance speech at Outfest's Trailblazer Awards. "I know I should've come out sooner and I'm sorry for that," he said at the time. "Especially when I think about the possibility that I might have made a difference in someone's life. I would probably be able to sleep a lot better than I do if I had acted sooner, but such is life. We learn our lessons only when we are ready."

What he's likely learning now is that he has made a difference in the lives of millions, which is why GLAAD on Tuesday announced that it has selected Hayes to receive the Stephen F. Kolzak Award at the 30th annual GLAAD Media Awards in Los Angeles on March 28. He will be joined at the Beverly Hilton Hotel with other confirmed guests including the cast of Queer Eye, Jameela Jamil (The Good Place), Imagine Dragons frontman and LGBTQ ally Dan Reynolds and Nico Santos (Crazy Rich Asians, Superstore).

The Stephen F. Kolzak Award "is presented to a LGBTQ media professional who has made a significant difference in promoting LGBTQ acceptance." Previous honorees include Jim Parsons, Laverne Cox, Ellen DeGeneres, Troye Sivan, Ruby Rose, Chaz Bono, Wanda Sykes, Melissa Etheridge, Pedro Zamora, Robert Greenblatt, Paris Barclay and Sir Ian McKellen.

"For many Americans, the TV character of Jack McFarland was one of the first out and proud gay men who they met and cheered for. Sean’s portrayal of Jack changed countless hearts and minds, and increased LGBTQ visibility at a time in history when representation and inclusion were low,” explained GLAAD president and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis of Hayes, who married his partner Scott Icenogle in 2014. “On screen and off screen, Sean uses his platforms to advance stories and messages that make the world laugh, make the world think, and further acceptance of all.”

Hayes joins Madonna as this year's notable GLAAD honorees. The pop superstar will receive the Advocate for Change Award during at the 30th Annual GLAAD Media Awards in New York City on May 4. Last month, GLAAD announced the nominees in other categories for the upcoming ceremonies: Blockers, Crazy Rich Asians, Deadpool 2, The Girl in the Spider's Web and Love, Simon were among the Hollywood titles that received nods.

The Hollywood Reporter also received a mention for outstanding magazine article for a feature titled "21 Transgender Stars, Creators Sound Off on Hollywood: 'I Want to Portray These Characters, and I'm Ready,'" written by Chris Gardner, Rebecca Sun, Lindsay Weinberg, Joelle Goldstein and Bryan White. THR will compete in the category with "Can a Transgender Woman Get Justice in Texas?" by Nate Blakeslee (Texas Monthly); "Ex-Scientologist Michelle LeClair Says Church Officials Humiliated Her After She Came Out as Gay" by Johnny Dodd, Tierney McAfee (People); "Lena Waithe Is Changing the Game" by Jacqueline Woodson (Vanity Fair) and "They Are the Champions" by Katie Barnes (ESPN The Magazine).

The 30th annual GLAAD Media Awards, presented by Delta Air Lines, Gilead, Hyundai, Ketel One Family-Made Vodka, and Wells Fargo will be held in Los Angeles on March 28 at the Beverly Hilton and in New York on May 4 at the New York Hilton Midtown. 

A full list of the nominees can be found here.