Each year, GLAAD presents non-competitive Special Recognition honors to outstanding media projects that do not fit into one of the existing GLAAD Media Awards categories. At the 31st Annual GLAAD Media Awards, GLAAD awarded Ryan O’Connell with a Special Recognition honor for his Netflix short-form series Special. This year, GLAAD also honored the legacy work of Karen Ocamb and Mark Segal, two pioneering LGBTQ journalists who demonstrate the critical role that LGBTQ media plays in driving LGBTQ acceptance forward.
Check out acceptance speeches by Ryan O’Connell, Karen Ocamb, and Mark Segal below:
Special is a Netflix short-form coming-of-age comedy series about a gay man with cerebral palsy. Ryan O’Connell created, wrote, and stars in the series, and serves as Executive Producer. The series has broken ground for disability representation and LGBTQ visibility on screen. Special was nominated for four 71st Primetime Emmy Awards in 2019, including an acting nomination for O’Connell, and has since been renewed for a second season. O’Connell spoke with GLAAD’s Anthony Ramos last year about the impact of the show and how important it was for him to use Special as a way to bring representation to marginalized voices, specifically LGBTQ people living with disabilities.
Before O’Connell’s speech, Jillian Mercado, an actress and model who has also broken barriers for disability representation, praised O’Connell for being a trailblazer in the entertainment industry.
Karen Ocamb is an award-winning LGBTQ journalist who is the former news editor of Los Angeles Blade, the sibling publication of the iconic Washington Blade. After initially starting her career at CBS News and producing the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles, Ocamb joined the LGBTQ press in the 1980s after more than 100 friends died from AIDS. She has since become a leading force and champion for LGBTQ media. Ocamb’s career illustrates the power of LGBTQ media to showcase the diversity and resilience of the LGBTQ community. She is known for her smart, fair, and professional writing style as well as her staunch dedication to shining the spotlight on underreported LGBTQ people and issues. She has covered a wide range of issues including marriage equality, the AIDS epidemic, and LGBTQ policies and laws for LGBTQ publications including the Bay Area Reporter, the San Diego Gay & Lesbian Times, The Advocate, Out and she served as news editor for IN Los Angeles and Frontiers magazines.
Mark Segal was a witness at Stonewall, founding member of NY’s Gay Liberation front, founder of the nation’s first LGBTQ Youth organization as well as a marshal of the Christopher Street Gay Liberation Day march which created the first Pride March in 1970. In 1973, Segal changed the course of LGBTQ inclusion in news media by famously disrupting live TV news broadcasts including The CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite and The TODAY Show with Barbara Walters. Segal is an award-winning journalist who has served as President of both the National LGBT Press Association and the National Gay Newspaper Guild. He is the founder and current publisher of the Philadelphia Gay News, which was named one of 2019’s best weekly newspapers by the National Newspaper Association. In 2015, he published his memoir And Then I Danced: Traveling the Road to LGBT Equality, which was named best book by The National LGBTQ Journalist Association. Segal also recently developed the John C. Anderson Apartments, one of the first LGBTQ-friendly affordable living communities for seniors. Now 47 years after being taken out of The TODAY Show in handcuffs, he is a member of the Comcast NBC/Universal Joint Diversity Committee, where he advises the media company on LGBT issues. Last year, his personal papers and artifacts from 50 years of LGBTQ advocacy were added to the collection of The Smithsonian Institute of American History in Washington, D.C.
The 31st Annual GLAAD Media Awards will air on Logo on Monday, August 3 at 8pm ET.
The 31st Annual GLAAD Media Awards are presented by Delta Air Lines, Gilead, P&G, and Wells Fargo. GLAAD is also grateful to: Major Partners The Ariadne Getty Foundation and Skittles; Titanium Partners Bud Light, Kaiser Permanente, NBA/WNBA, Netflix, PwC, Signet Jewelers; and Gold Partners Coca-Cola, MLB, Nickelodeon, and Nielsen. Special Thanks to Accenture.