Hosted by Good Morning America's Lara Spencer, Josh Elliott, and the recently married Sam Champion, GLAAD presented its 24th annual Media Awards in New York City this weekend. President Herndon Graddick helped get the crowd's energy up early on by announcing the organization is "making transgender equality a priority," as television has not yet made a "dent" on getting the trans community on air.
While looking toward the future of media, the event was also an evening to celebrate accomplishments from the past year. Madonna and her boy scouts outlook was not the only show-stopper from the ceremony. Ok, well maybe she did only make my heart stop a couple of times, but still, the Material Girl came to present Anderson Cooper with his fourth GLAAD award in his career.
In Madonna's words, Anderson is a "bad bad-ass motherfucker," and someone she admires. She grabbed his ass, hugged, and kissed the CNN anchor (#jealous) before handing him the Vito Russo Award, named after a founding member of the organization and presented to an individual for his or her significance in promoting equality as an openly LGBT media professional.
"To receive an award named after Vito Russo is an incredible honor ... I'm not worthy of it at all," he began his speech. Mentioning reading Russo's The Celluloid Closet while in high school, Anderson said, "It opened my eyes to the ways the [media] for generations portrayed us... Vito Russo was a hero." Watch his entire speech below:
After coming out last summer, it seemed to be a milestone for the newsman. "I've had so many blessings in my life, and certainly being gay is one of the greatest blessings," he finished before giving thanks to everyone in his life, including boyfriend Benjamin Maisani.
Along with Madonna coming out for Anderson, Jake Shears and Babydaddy from Scissor Sisters performed a special number for the man of the hour. Shears sang an acoustic version of College & Electric Youth's "A Real Hero" for his pal, adding a new verse, especially for Coop.
The Fabulous Allies
Straight allies played a significant part of the evening's festivities. Milla Jovovich presented an award and spoke about her support for, not only the community today, but future LGBT people to come out. Also in attendance: Jersey Shore alums JWoww, Snooki, and Vinny; the outspoken NFL-ers Chris Kluwe and Brendon Ayanbadejo; TV personality Nigel Barker; and Honey Boo Boo's mama, June.
GLAAD also honored a supporter with the Ally Award this year, which went to film director Brett Ratner for his commitment to the community after his 2011 gay slur incident. "I learned a valuable lesson, a word can matter, whether it's said with malice or as a joke," Ratner said In his acceptance speech. "Being insulted for using the word cannot compare to the experience of any young gay man or woman who has been the target of offensive slurs or derogatory comments."
Hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons and GLAAD President Graddick presented the award to the Tower Heist, Rush Hour director for the series of PSAs he worked on with the organization this past year, which feature a diverse group of straight celebrities and athletes "coming out of the closet" in support of equality and calling on others to speak out.
Smash, Amazing Race, and More Winners
On to the media awards of the night, among them were NBC's Smash for Outstanding Drama Series, which was accepted by gay executive producers Neil Meron (holding award below) and Craig Zadan, who were joined by Christian Borle, Andy Mientus, Krysta Rodriguez, Wesley Taylor, and Bernadette Peters.
Among the other winners: The Amazing Race was selected as Outstanding Reality Program, and the award was accepted by Josh Kilmer-Purcell and his partner Brent Ridge (aka The Beekman Boys). Actor Dan Stevens (Downton Abbey) presented How to Survive a Plague director David France an award for Outstanding Documentary. Also, in one of the categories not presented on stage that evening, Out and The Advocate were awarded Outstanding Magazine Overall Coverage.
Visit GLAAD for a complete list of announced winners. There are 33 media categories overall, and the remaining award recipients from the list of nominees will be announced in Los Angeles on April 20, and San Francisco on May 11.