Above: White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre
Last week the Pulitzer Prizes were announced, and noticeable among the accolades for strong, authentic journalism was the absence of awards for individual New York Times pieces.
For more than a year, The New York Times has published irresponsible, biased coverage of transgender people, and repeatedly elevated the views and opinions of the small fringe of anti-LGBTQ activists, often without identifying their connections to anti-LGBTQ groups, amplifying inaccurate and harmful misinformation about transgender people and issues. Three months after a coalition of GLAAD and more than 100 coalition partners sent a letter to The New York Times demanding fair, accurate, and inclusive trans coverage, the Times did not receive any Pulitzer Prizes for individual articles, nor for Investigative Reporting (the prize went to the staff of The Wall Street Journal), Explanatory Reporting (awarded to Caitlin Dickerson of The Atlantic), National Reporting (awarded to Carline Kitchener of The Washington Post), Feature Writing (awarded to Eli Saslow of The Washington Post), Commentary (awarded to Kyle Whitmire of AL.com, Birmingham), or Editorial Writing (awarded to Miami Herald Editorial Board, for a series written by Amy Driscoll). The complete list of prizes is here.
The Pulitzer Prizes recognized robust, inclusive, and empathetic reporting on vulnerable communities, with winners representing topics of massive impact on diverse, marginalized, and voiceless people—indigenous and Black populations, children, immigrants, detainees, prisoners—and stories that did not trade in an artificial “both sides” dynamic that has characterized the Times’s transgender coverage. The prizes included recognition of work that featured inclusive reporting of vulnerable communities by journalists who are members of those communities, including awarding the prize for General Nonfiction to Washington Post reporters Robert Samuels and Toluse Olorunnipa for their book, His Name Is George Floyd: One Man’s Life and the Struggle for Racial Justice (Viking).
— Poynter (@Poynter) May 11, 2023
Despite what the Times’s leadership has claimed, more precise and empathetic journalism can and should include reporters whose own backgrounds and experiences reflect the people they are reporting on. Ignoring critiques as “activism” and silencing colleagues from oppressed backgrounds reflects a moral, intellectual and emotional failure across the Times’s leadership. In the three months following the coalition letter, the Times has refused to publicly acknowledge its coverage failures, respond directly to the letter, or meet with trans leaders.
GLAAD continued its protest of The New York Times on May 9, with a digital billboard at the entrance of the New York Times building in Manhattan.
Also in awards news this past week, on May 13, GLAAD announced recipients for the final 18 of this year’s 33 categories of the 34th Annual GLAAD Media Awards in New York City hosted by producer, Critics Choice-nominated actor and GLAAD Award winner, Harvey Guillén.
Recognizing the rise in anti-LGBTQ violence and rhetoric across the country, including over 500 anti-LGBTQ bills introduced so far in 2023, GLAAD’s Board Chair Liz Jenkins introduced LGBTQ lawmakers who have had their voices silenced in the state legislatures where they serve. Montana State Representative Zooey Zephyr, the first out transgender person elected to statewide office in Montana, and queer and nonbinary Oklahoma State Representative Mauree Turner spoke to spotlight the critical role we all have in representing our communities with the power of the vote. Both representatives were censured by extremist colleagues in their state legislatures after defending LGBTQ constituents.
Above from left: Oklahoma State Representative Mauree Turner and Montana State Representative Zooey Zephyr
“Trans people have always been here and we always will be,” said Rep. Zooey Zephyr. “And not just our lives, but our resilience, our joy, and our love is forever. You cannot legislate trans people out of existence any more than you can legislate away joy and love. If we root ourselves in that love, and root ourselves in community, we are sure to win. We already are.”
Rep. Mauree Turner said, “I am the culmination of the things bigots hate the most: a Queer Black non-binary Muslim elected official. What they say is: You don’t get access to the same Oklahoma as the rest of us because I don’t like you. And what I say is: Leave your homegrown bigotry at home. I was lucky to have a mother who said I see you, I will always advocate for you. But even with that support I didn’t think I was going to make it through middle school, let alone high school. Now it’s the same bullies with different tactics. But I did not give up when I was 12 or 15, and I’m not going to give up now. I want trans youth, trans youth of color, and all youth to hear this: I know how heavy and scary it is right now. I’ve been there.”
The two representatives also introduced GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis. Ellis welcomed Rep. Zephyr’s fiancée Erin Reed to the stage to congratulate the couple on their recent engagement. Reed is a notable trans legislative researcher, content creator and activist.
Above from left: OK Rep. Mauree Turner, Independent Journalist Erin Reed, MT Rep. Zooey Zephyr, GLAAD President & CEO Sarah Kate Ellis, GLAAD Board Chair Liz Jenkins
GLAAD’s President & CEO Sarah Kate Ellis made keynote remarks, saying in part, “We want an America where AR-15 assault rifles do not have more rights than people of color, women, and LGBTQ Americans. So when they go low, we get LOUD. That is GLAAD’s superpower…We are not going to let anyone tell a story that villainizes us, when the truth is that everyone deserves to live happily ever after. So raise your voice. Take action with GLAAD. Get loud and stay proud.”
We are not going to let anyone tell a story that villainizes us, when the truth is that everyone deserves to live happily ever after.
— Sarah Kate Ellis (@sarahkateellis) May 15, 2023
Additionally, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, who is openly gay, took to the GLAAD Media Awards stage to share remarks on the power of representation and how visibility in media impacts social and cultural change. As a mother, Jean-Pierre shared words of love to trans youth, which she characterized as the same words she said she imparts onto her eight-year-old when facing challenging life situations: “You have one job and one job only: it’s to be a good person, to be kind, and to never let anyone tell you who you are or who you can be. To every trans person out there: No one should have to be brave to be themselves. You are perfect just the way you are. You are loved. And we have your back. I want the same for you that I want for my daughter—to dream big, and to never, ever let anyone tell you who you are.”
Jean-Pierre announced the recipient of the award in a special category remarking, “Representation matters. It is my honor to announce the GLAAD Special Recognition Honorees… [including] the winner of the GLAAD Barbara Gittings Award, the Los Angeles Blade and the Washington Blade, the only LGBTQ outlet in the White House press corps, asking questions about our issues.”
The New York ceremony (which followed the GLAAD Media Awards ceremony in Los Angeles on March 30) honored journalists and storytellers who get the assignment, who cover vulnerable communities and lift those voices, not as a debate but as real people navigating real things.
Awardees included: committed journalist Nico Lang in the category of Outstanding Online Journalism Article: “Alabama Is Trying to Raise the Legal Driving Age for Trans People to 19” (TheDailyBeast.com); Outstanding TV Journalism Segment: “HIV in the Deep South” In Real Life (Scripps News) for its coversge of vulnerable communities including people living with HIV in the South; Outstanding Variety or Talk Show Episode for The Problem with Jon Stewart for that show’s decisive breakdown of discriminatory bills targeting transgender people’s health care; Raquel Willis and the “Logo Trans Youth Town Hall” for Outstanding Online Journalism—Video or Multimedia for bringing forward the voices of trans youth themselves; Outstanding Live TV Journalism – Segment or Special: “The Last Thing Before We Go: Stephanie Ruhle Talks Spirit Day” The 11th Hour (MSNBC) on the importance of supporting LGBTQ youth; Outstanding Print Article “Pediatricians Who Serve Trans Youth Face Increasing Harassment. Lifesaving Care Could Be on the Line” by Madeleine Carlisle (TIME) for the in-depth report on health care providers’ experiences being targeted for providing best practice; Outstanding TV Journalism—Long-Form to “PRIDE | To Be Seen” Soul of a Nation (ABC); and the out storytellers and content creators including the Outstanding Blog-awarded Mombian highlighting the lives of queer parents; and a new award category, Outstanding Podcast, honoring TransLash Podcast with Imara Jones (TransLash Media) and Sibling Rivalry (Studio71). HBO’s We’re Here received the award for Outstanding Reality Series, with Bob the Drag Queen passing the mic to LGBTQ people and families the show has featured across rural and red states – the message – we’re here, we’re not going anywhere.
Maren Morris accepted GLAAD’s Excellence in Media Award, introduced by drag superstars Cynthia Lee Fontaine and Alyssa Edwards, making Morris the first country music artist to receive that honor. She remarked, “I want my fellow country music artists to understand that inclusivity is not only the right thing, but it’s also good for business.”
In another historic first, Jonathan Van Ness accepted GLAAD’s Vito Russo Award, presented by ALOK, making them the first nonbinary recipient to receive that honor. In accepting the award, Van Ness proclaimed, “We need to proudly say we are pro queer pro trans pro black pro-abortion rights, pro-immigration, we are PRO-HUMAN!” Van Ness also noted that queer people are not a threat, “poverty, lack of education, lack of health care, white nationalism, and the out of control gun lobby are the real threats we must be focusing on today.” Van Ness said they are from a family of broadcasters, and “journalism, facts, and freedom of expression are as much passions of mine as figure skating, gymnastics or fashion.”
Broadway, film, and TV star Idina Menzel (below) performed the global debut of her pop track “Move” from her upcoming dance album Drama Queen (releasing August 18), and reprised her signature Wicked hit song “Defying Gravity.”