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"It's easy for us to say to each other, all dressed up, clean, beautiful, pretty shiny, that we're going to change the world," said Alexandra Billings, as she accepted the GLAAD Award for Outstanding Comedy Series on behalf of Transparent on Saturday at the Beverly Hilton in Los Angeles. "That's easy. What's going to take courage is for us to talk to the people who don't agree with us. We can be very grateful without his knowing it, that the president has changed us in a way that I don't think has any idea about."
Mirroring the urgent state of activism our country's circumstances have awakened in our communities, the 28th annual GLAAD Awards took on a theme of intersectionality, the idea that our freedoms and rights are interconnected and interdependent. The ampersand has become a symbol of this intersectional "Together" movement, and guests wore pins with the symbol for solidarity with all groups: LGBTQ, POC, immigrants, women, Muslims, and others. As Transparent's Trace Lysette put it, "we are women and men and everything in between... and we will create change together."
Cameron Esposito hosted, taking jabs at the president along the way: "Donald Trump lost the popular vote this year," Esposito said, inciting cheers from the audience. "He was inaugurated in front of a crowd as tiny as his petulant baby hands. Donald if you're watching, to you I say, Meryl was too easy on you."
Troye Sivan, at age 21, became the youngest person to be honored with the Stephen F. Kolzak Award, and dedicated his award to those who came before him: activisists Bayard Rustin, James Baldwin, Sylvia Rivera, and others.
Patricia Arquette was recognized with the Vanguard Award, the audience on its feet, cheering and teary eyed, as Arquette spoke emotionally of her late sister Alexis Arquette.
"She risked everything, she risked it all, because she knew she couldn't live a lie," Arquette said of Alexis' decision to live as an out trans woman, losing parts and affecting her career by doing so. "Whatever mark I have made in this lift in activism will always pale in the light of Alexis's bravery and the light of the bravery of every trans kid growing up in America."
Nearly $500,000 was brought in over the course of the evening through donations and a silent auction, during which an African safari, trip to Australia, personalized pop song by Justin Tranter (songwriter to Justin Bieber, Gwen Stefani and Britney Spears) were available to the highest bidder.
Following an introduction by Jussie Smollett, Broadway star Cynthia Erivo performed a touching rendition of Imagine to commemorate the lives lost in the Pulse nightclub shooting.
Moonlight, after winning Best Picture at the Academy Awards, also took home a GLAAD Award for Outstanding Drama. Mary J. Blige presented the award to writer Tarell Alvin McCraney--his second GLAAD Award win following one for Wig Out in 2009:
"I didn't know if I would be here again. But I did think, what would I say if I won GLAAD again?... My hope was that I would be here standing because I told, finally, my story. That would mean I would have to get brave, that I would have to find the right allies, the right family, and it would have to come out of us, all together, and you would see, broken, scared, black, sometimes gay, oftentimes queen, always Tarell standing in front of you. And if I ever win a GLAAD Award again I would hope to say that I wish like hell we had started to treat women better. Not because they are our mothers and our daughters and our sisters, but because they are mothers and daughters and sisters... I hope that if I win a GLAAD Award again, it's because I have enough sense to stand behind those women, assigned and trans, black and brown, and follow them into victory."
The 28th Annual GLAAD Awards air Thursday, April 6 on Logo.