Monday, March 30, 2009
Fun Times at GLAAD Media Awards
Being gay, even in Barack’s America, is a lot of work. I realized this over the weekend as James and I soaked in the A-gayness of the 2009 GLAAD Media Awards here in New York and sat through moving speeches by celebs (Tyra! Suze Orman! Phil Donohue!) and up-and-coming leaders who work to promote “fair, accurate and inclusive representation of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people” across all media. As I’ve said before on this blog, between the skinny jeans look-at-me-and-how-smart-I-am ways of New York and the white-capped-teeth, too-cool-for-school blitheness of Los Angeles, there are a lot of Americans who get their depictions of gays and lesbians from their churches, elected officials, and –gasp – the Fox News Channel. What that means is that, for every negative, stereotypical depiction of an LGBT person in a newspaper cartoon or for every speech by a member of our government denigrating the legitimacy of a same-sex partnership, an American stands to lose the full benefit of citizenship: employment, access to healthcare, the right to care for their partner when they are ill.
This was impressed upon me during a speech by the former Executive Director of GLAAD who said that the work of civil rights movements isn’t to bring a group over from the wrong side of equality, but to erase that divide altogether. So it was great to hear Phil Donohue talk about the importance of introducing LGBT stories into America’s living rooms when he first took to the airwaves in 1967, or Tyra Banks talk about how she relates to LGBT discrimination because not every casting director used to think she was that fierce, or Suze Orman who said she was always out, proud and perma-tanned. “I’ve. Always. Been. Out! That. Is. Not. News!” I was also struck by the fact that, beyond the parties, GLAAD is a nimble media machine that isn’t just looking for face time with Hollywood celebs, but is actually going toe-to-toe with conservative media outlets to call out biases against the LGBT community. Case in point: as soon as the NY Post cartoon depicting a dead monkey/President(?) came out, the organization was ready to address the right-wing newspaper’s past offenses against other minority groups, specifically gays.
You would think that a gathering of politically active gays and their friends in the “elite, liberal media” would be a raucous, Republican-bashing affair. But it wasn’t. With all the good work that’s been done in the past year – even in spite of setbacks like Proposition 8 and anti-adoption legislation introduced in Arkansas – the mood was hopeful and celebratory. As mistress of ceremonies, comedienne Kate Clinton pointed out, it seems the gays are thrilled to be out of the abusive relationship that was the Bush administration and in the arms of Barack Obama (though I did want to point out that our newly elected president isn’t in favor of gay marriage either).
The evening’s highlight for me: a quick chat with Boricua actress Ana Ortiz from Ugly Betty. Another fab latina who was so nice to yours truly – as soon as I mentioned that we went to the same high school she threw her arms around me, yakked away in Spanish, and posed for two pictures (the first one sucked). James and I then meandered to the Absolut Mango-sponsored after-party where we were next to another Ugly Betty star, Michael Urie. I did want to mention that his character’s mixed-matched shirt and tie combos on the show inspire my own look, but really, why the hell would he have cared? Incidentally, I had my mango-infused vodka on the rocks with a twist of lime. I don’t remember how I got home.
Pix and vids below: one is the first part of Tyra’s acceptance speech for her award, and the other is a performance by the House of Ninja.
Note: Special thanks to my friend and colleague Holly Fussell for being a lovely hostess and our in for the evening's festivities.