Following the 34th GLAAD Media Awards ceremony in Los Angeles on March 30th, it was New York’s turn on Saturday, May 13th to continue this year’s celebration, as the remaining 18 of 33 categories were announced at a glittering event at Hilton Midtown. With its annual awards, GLAAD—the world’s largest LGBTQ media advocacy organization—honors fair, accurate, and inclusive representation of LGBTQ+ people and issues in media and entertainment.
The evening opened with a special performance by Broadway legend Idina Menzel of “Defying Gravity” from the show that saw her win a Tony for Best Actress in a Musical, Wicked. The lyrics, with lines such as “they’ll never bring us down”, felt particularly meaningful in a room full of LGBTQ+ people and our allies, gathering at a time when there has been a rise in anti-LGBTQ violence and rhetoric across the United States, including over 500 anti-LGBTQ bills introduced so far this year.
She followed that number, with a global debut performance of her uplifting pop disco track, “Move”, from her upcoming album Drama Queen. Speaking with The Queer Review on the GLAAD Awards red carpet, Menzel said, “I want everyone here to feel like they have an ally—especially the LGBTQ+ youth—to feel like they have a home and a place where they are loved and seen and heard. I’m excited that I’m opening the show. I want to start off with a very celebratory mood, because I think there’s a lot to celebrate in this very divisive time. This community has taught me so much about how to live an authentic life courageously and that’s something inspires me everyday.”
Maren Morris accepted GLAAD’s Excellence in Media Award, introduced by drag superstars Cynthia Lee Fontaine and Alyssa Edwards, making Morris the first country music artist to receive the honor from GLAAD. “I want my fellow country music artists to understand that inclusivity is not only the right thing, but it’s also good for business”, Marren said on stage. “You open up yourself and your sound to a much larger audience, even if you lose some along the way. The crowds at my shows are a sea of diversity, from race, identity to age. It is a loving, safe space for my band, crew, venue staff and most notably, my fans. This community stood up for me and made me feel safe when I felt alone and I’ll never be able to repay them, but I hope I get spend the rest of my life and career settling up.” Having been branded a “lunatic country music person” by Tucker Carlson, the singer went on to create t-shirts emblazoned with that phrase. “I felt a little badass taking Carlson calling me a ‘lunatic’ for standing up to transphobia, turning it into a t-shirt and raising $150,000 for LGBTQ+ charities. That made me feel a little cool”, Marren said on stage. Joking that she didn’t want to “gloat”, adding, “I would never insult the recently unemployed.”
Queer Eye host and author Jonathan Van Ness accepted GLAAD’s Vito Russo Award, presented by ALOK, becoming the first nonbinary recipient of that honor. “Living in Texas, I am not willing to sit on the sidelines as these grown bullies attempt to erase our community”, Van Ness said during their acceptance speech. “Luckily I grew up with strong women who taught me to stand up for what’s right. One of the ways I do that is to frequently join my friends from Equality Texas and GLAAD in Austin. I want everyone to find their healing. I know people love and accept you more once you love and accept yourself. I also know that we need to proudly say we are pro-queer pro-trans pro-Black pro-abortion rights, pro-immigration, we are pro-human! What is happening now should be a jolting wakeup call.”
GLAAD Award-winner Harvey Guillén was on hand to host the New York ceremony, which saw Fire Island and Anything’s Possible both receive the award for Outstanding Film – Streaming/TV; We’re Here win for Outstanding Reality Series; The Problem with Jon Stewart take the award for Outstanding Variety or Talk Show Episode; and Logo’s Trans Youth Town Hall receive the award for Outstanding Online Journalism – Video or Multimedia.
Fire Island writer and star Joel Kim Booster told The Queer Review that “as a film made by gay people for gay people, more so than any of the other awards that we’ve been nominated for this season, this one means a lot because it is being given to us by the people who we made the movie for, our family”.
On the GLAAD Awards red carpet, the star of Anything’s Possible Eva Reign shared with The Queer Review that she has received messages from people all over the world who have been touched by the movie. “They’ve talked about how they’ve wanted to see a film like this about a trans girl falling in love with a cis boy, where it’s not a thing; there’s no trauma, it’s not a tragic thing. It’s as simple as love should be. Which is easy, and fun and free. So I’m really happy that I got to usher in a new era of how we see ourselves on screen.”
In one of the most moving moments of the night, the “drag kids” from season 3 of HBO’s We’re Here took to the stage alongside the show’s creators Johnnie Ingram and Steven Warren and drag mentors Eureka and Bob the Drag Queen, to accept the award for Outstanding Reality Series. Firstly, De’Bronski Jefferson talked about his experience making the show, sharing, “this was the first time in my entire life that I did not feel invisible. I’m so thankful to have these amazing people to help me put my story on a platform to show others that we are here, and I’m going to tell you something, we are not going anywhere.” While teacher Jamie shared, “one of the most empowering moments of my life was taking to the stage in drag to perform with my daughter and hearing the thunderous applause in honor of her. My daughter Dempsey is an eleven year old that loves life, she lives to dance, hang out with her friends, and recently got accepted into the esteemed performing arts school in our community. She doesn’t like to eat vegetables, and she takes great pleasure in annoying her older brothers. She’s just a regular fifth grader. She also happens to be transgender.” “Things are extremely difficult for us right now in our home state of Florida”, she added, “but despite the incredible challenges, trans people will never ever be erased.”
To spotlight the critical role we all have in representing our communities with the power of the vote, GLAAD invited transgender Montana State Representative Zooey Zephyr and queer and nonbinary Oklahoma State Representative Mauree Turner to speak at the ceremony. Both state representatives have been targeted and silenced in recent weeks, censured by the respective state legislatures that they serve in. “When bigoted politicians turn to disgusting tactics to erase queer voices, GLAAD turns up the volume on exposing hate and amplifying what accurate and fair queer visibility look, sounds and feels like”, the organization shared in an official press release. While on stage, Rep. Zephyr commented, “Trans people have always been here and we always will be. And not just our lives, but our resilience, our joy, and our love is forever. You cannot legislate trans people out of existence any more than you can legislate away joy and love. If we root ourselves in that love, and root ourselves in community, we are sure to win. We already are.”
Rep. Mauree Turner added, “I am the culmination of the things bigots hate the most: a queer Black non-binary Muslim elected official. What they say is: you don’t get access to the same Oklahoma as the rest of us because I don’t like you. And what I say is: leave your homegrown bigotry at home. I was lucky to have a mother who said I see you, I will always advocate for you. But even with that support I didn’t think I was going to make it through middle school, let alone high school. Now it’s the same bullies with different tactics. But I did not give up when I was 12 or 15, and I’m not going to give up now. I want trans youth, trans youth of color, and all youth to hear this: I know how heavy and scary it is right now. I’ve been there.”
During a galvanizing keynote speech, GLAAD’s President & CEO Sarah Kate Ellis declared, “We want an America where AR-15 assault rifles do not have more rights than people of color, women, and LGBTQ Americans. So when they go low, we get loud! That is GLAAD’s superpower. We are not going to let anyone tell a story that villainizes us, when the truth is that everyone deserves to live happily ever after. So raise your voice. Take action with GLAAD. Get loud and stay proud.”
During the New York ceremony, GLAAD also announced winners in the following categories in an off-stage video reel:
Outstanding Kids & Family Programming – Live Action: Heartstopper (Netflix)
Outstanding Kids & Family Programming – Animated: Dead End: Paranormal Park (Netflix)
Outstanding Breakthrough Music Artist: Dove Cameron (Columbia Records)
Outstanding Broadway Production: A Strange Loop
Outstanding Video Game: Apex Legends (Respawn Entertainment/Electronic Arts)
Outstanding Original Graphic Novel/Anthology: Young Men in Love (A Wave Blue World)
Outstanding TV Journalism Segment: “HIV in the Deep South” In Real Life (Scripps News)
Outstanding TV Journalism – Long-Form: “PRIDE | To Be Seen” Soul of a Nation (ABC)
Outstanding Live TV Journalism – Segment or Special: “The Last Thing Before We Go: Stephanie Ruhle Talks Spirit Day” The 11th Hour (MSNBC)
Outstanding Print Article: “Pediatricians Who Serve Trans Youth Face Increasing Harassment. Lifesaving Care Could Be on the Line” by Madeleine Carlisle (TIME)
Outstanding Online Journalism Article: “Alabama Is Trying to Raise the Legal Driving Age for Trans People to 19” by Nico Lang (TheDailyBeast.com)
Outstanding Blog: Mombian
Outstanding Podcast: TransLash Podcast with Imara Jones (TransLash Media) and Sibling Rivalry (Studio71) (TIE)
Outstanding Spanish-Language Online Journalism Article: “Proyectos de ley anti LGBTQ+ en Florida son una ‘licencia para discriminar’ y reviven el dolor de Pulse, dicen grupos locales” por Jennifer A. Marcial Ocasio (OrlandoSentinel.com)
Outstanding Spanish-Language Online Journalism – Video or Multimedia: “Las abuelas trans buscan dignificar su vejez” por Liliana Rosas y Silvana Flores (ReporteIndigo.com)
GLAAD previously announced winners of the following categories at the Los Angeles Ceremony of the GLAAD Media Awards.
Outstanding New TV Series: A League of Their Own (Prime Video)
Outstanding Comedy Series: What We Do in The Shadows (FX)
Outstanding Film – Wide Release: Bros (Universal Pictures)
Outstanding Documentary: Framing Agnes (Kino Lorber)
Outstanding Film – Limited Release: The Inspection (A24)Outs
tanding Reality Program – Competition: Dancing with the Stars (Disney+)
Outstanding Music Artist: Fletcher, Girl of My Dreams (Capitol Records)
Outstanding Limited or Anthology Series: The White Lotus (HBO MAX)
Outstanding Comic Book: Poison Ivy, by G. Willow Wilson, Marcio Takara, Atagun Ilhan, Brian Level, Stefano Gaudiano, Jay Leisten, Arif Prianto, Ivan Plascencia, Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou (DC Comics)
Outstanding Children’s Programming: “Adoptasaurus Rex” Dino Ranch (Disney Junior)
Outstanding Magazine Overall Coverage: The Advocate
Outstanding Spanish-Language Scripted Television Series: Los Espookys (HBO)
Outstanding Spanish-Language TV Journalism: “Vico Ortiz” Primer Impacto (Univision)
Barbara Gittings Award for Excellence in LGBTQ Media: Los AngelesBlade + Washington Blade
Special Recognition: Alejandra Caraballo
Special Recognition: Drag Story Hour
Special Recognition: Rothaniel (HBO)
Special Recognition: #Letters4TransKids
Special Recognition: The Lesbian Bar Project
Special Recognition (Spanish-Language): “En Sus Palabras” (Univision)
The nominees for the 34th Annual GLAAD Media Awards were published, released, or broadcast between January 1, 2022 and December 31, 2022.
The GLAAD Media Awards ceremonies fund GLAAD’s work to accelerate LGBTQ acceptance.