On Monday night, GLAAD, the world’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) media advocacy organization, accepted the Television Academy’s 2023 Governors Award.
The prestigious honor recognizes GLAAD’s work over nearly four decades to secure fair, accurate and diverse representation of the LGBTQ community in the media and entertainment industries and to advocate for LGBTQ equality.
GLAAD’s President and CEO, Sarah Kate Ellis, accepted the honor during the Jan. 15 Primetime Emmy Awards telecast on FOX.
The Governors Award is bestowed by the Television Academy’s Board of Governors and honors an individual, company or organization that has made a profound, transformational and long-lasting contribution to the arts and/or science of television.
GLAAD was founded in 1985 by Vito Russo, author of The Celluloid Closet, alongside LGBTQ advocates and journalists, and works with leaders in television, film, gaming, news, business, politics, and more to lead the global conversation on LGBTQ equality and ensure that authentic and diverse LGBTQ stories are seen and heard.
Out actor and Emmy Award-winner Colman Domingo joined Emmy Award-winner and LGBTQ ally Hannah Waddingham, to present GLAAD with the honor.
Waddingham and Domingo shared presenter remarks tied to their personal experiences, how GLAAD’s work has impact them and how they themselves have been part of the important work in Hollywood to create change in our culture and society by reflecting the reality of LGBTQ experiences on screen:
Coleman and I are so very honored to have been asked to present the 2023 Governors Award to GLAAD.
Tonight, I am so proud standing here representing the spirit of Byard Rustin. As an advocate for racial equity, and the LGBTQ community, I understand the importance of GLAAD’s mission and its commitment to representation.
When we represent the diversity of our society, we help change the narratives of a community. And I am so very proud that this past season of Ted lasso included storylines that truly celebrated LGBTQ characters.
And unfortunately, with anti LGBTQ freedoms being debated both here and abroad, the complex characters that we see and compelling stories that we tell are an incredibly important piece of showing the humanity of who we actually are dispelling tropes, and offering a rich, vibrant rainbow of the human experience.
When we view entertainment, as a form of advocacy, we understand that we have the power to create real change.
Over the past four decades, GLAAD has consulted on nearly every TV series and TV movie with an LGBTQ character taking the lead and making sure the realities we face off screen are reflected on screen.
GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis was joined onstage by Liz Jenkins (Chair of GLAAD’s Board of Directors), Rich Ferraro (GLAAD Chief Communications Officer), Nick Adams (Vice President of Transgender Representation), Anthony Allen Ramos (Vice President of Communications & Talent), Christel Miller (GLAAD Board of Directors), and out actor Wilson Cruz. Cruz is a former GLAAD staffer and Board Member. In 1994, he became the first out actor to play an out character in a leading role on television when he played Rickie Vasquez on My So-Called Life.
In her acceptance speech, GLAAD President & CEO Sarah Kate Ellis called for more LGBTQ stories to be told, especially about transgender people:
“So many people have worked tirelessly to get LGBTQ representation here.
For us this work is personal, for me, it’s about my wife and our kids.
What the world sees on TV directly influences how we treat each other and the decisions we make in our living rooms, schools, at work, and at the ballot box.
The world urgently needs culture changing stories about transgender people.
Because more Americans say they have seen a ghost than know a trans person.
When you don’t know people, it’s easy to demonize them.
Visibility creates understanding and opens doors, it’s life-saving.
Our community has achieved so much and yet, we are still being villainized with cruel and harmful lies.
Sharing stories is the antidote.
Now is the time to take action – to support everyone in the LGBTQ community, because this story is still being told and we all can be the heroes.
Thank you to the Television Academy and the Board of Governors.”
Watch the full acceptance here:
Previous recipients of the Governors Award, which debuted in 1978, include the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, Debbie Allen, Tyler Perry, Star Trek, American Idol, mtvU Campaign for Darfur, PBS, Masterpiece Theater, Hallmark Cards Inc. and Walter Cronkite.
Are you with us? Support GLAAD’s mission in accelerating acceptance for LGBTQ people through culture-changing visibility in business, tv and entertainment, HERE.