The 33rd Annual GLAAD Media Awards took place last night at the New York Hilton Midtown. Stars from all over came to celebrate the LGBTQ community and honor excellence in media. This year’s recipient of GLAAD’s Excellence in Media Award is multiple Tony and Emmy award-winning actress, producer, and activist Judith Light.
GLAAD’s Excellence in Media Award is presented to media professionals who have made a significant difference in promoting acceptance of LGBTQ people. Previous Excellence in Media Award honorees include Ava DuVernay, Robert De Niro, Kelly Ripa, Patti LaBelle, Debra Messing, Tyra Banks, Julianne Moore, Glenn Close, Barbara Walters, Joy Behar, Billy Crystal, and Diane Sawyer.
Ariana DeBose, who recently made history for being the first openly queer woman of color to win an Academy Award, was welcomed to the stage with a standing ovation. She started her speech saying, “Names are no accidents. Judith shines light wherever she goes.” Ariana reflected on her mentor’s role as an ally to the LGBTQ community.
“When Judith witnessed friend after friend losing their life to HIV/AIDS, she could not stand idly by. She pushed for change in the theater world, demanding more inclusive voices on stage and off.” DeBose went on to say, “Decade after decade she has aligned herself with communities that needed allies with megaphones: women, people of color, and the LGBTQ community.”
After a highlight reel of Judith’s career as an actress and advocate was played, Ariana welcomed her dear friend to the stage. The crowd was moved to their feet once again. Light expressed her love and admiration for DeBose and then began the final speech of the night.
She thanked GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis for her leadership being “vitally instrumental in the exponential expansion of GLAAD.” She reflected on how far GLAAD has come since when she first got involved 3 decades ago.
Light spoke tearfully about her close friends Stephen F. Kolzack and his partner Paul Monnete who both lost their lives to the AIDS crisis in the 90s. She said her work in the community and with GLAAD has run “literally from one pandemic to another.”
Light went on to talk about the “deeply destructive bills in Florida, Alabama and Texas.” and stated that “no one of any race, gender identity, sexual orientation or ability should have to face discrimination from their own government.”
She reminded the audience that in times of violence and divisiveness, the LGBTQ community has long been resilient. She said, “Yours is a history of righteous protest that gave birth to the Mattachine society, The Daughters of Bilitis, the Stonewall rebellion, Act Up and so many more groups, leading to the legal rights, health protections and marriage equality we have today.”
To close her speech, Judith quoted her dear friend Paul Monnete. “No one will find the way out of hate and violence unless we do… There’s only one kind of anger that’s good for you and that’s anger against injustice. And remember there’s no such thing as false hope. We all have closets to come out if we are ever going to be free. Truth is a full-time job and intimacy a lifelong struggle. I promise you, all that will matter when you come to the end is how much you’ve managed to love and how much you’ve given back. Go without hate. Heal the world.”
Watch the full speech here: