GLAAD Media Awards: Emotion and inspiration at SF event
On Saturday night, John and I attended this year’s third and final GLAAD Media Awards ceremony and gala fundraiser. Hosted by local native and Glee star Diana Agron, the SF event may not have been as star-studded as the New York and Los Angeles ceremonies held earlier this spring, but the evening had a surprising number of emotionally rewarding moments. (The star stud on the SF stage was Mario Lopez, a straight ally who also just happens to be launching his own line of fancy underpants). Among the night’s most powerful elements was the further emergence of another straight ally— Zac Wahls—as his generation’s most accessible and compelling spokesperson GLBT rights. The poised, articulate 20-year-old son of lesbian mothers who came to national attention after addressing the Iowa House Judiciary committee in defense of same-sex marriage last year is broadening his scope, taking on the Boy Scouts of America for their official policy barring GLBT leaders.
On May 30, three days prior to the GLAAD awards, former Eagle Scout Wahls appeared at the Boy Scouts’ annual national meeting in Orlando where he presented a petition signed by over 270,000 Americans on behalf of Jennifer Tyrrell, a lesbian mother from Ohio who was kicked out as a den mother for her son’s troop. Tyrrell, her partner, and their children also appeared onstage.
The GLAAD Media Award for best online digital journalism article was won by Max Rosenthal of the Huffington post and accepted by its teary-eyed subjects, Adam Harmon and Pete Bennett, who first met as West Point cadets and married within weeks of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal.
For me though, the evening’s highlight came within moments of finding my assigned table, when I discovered we were seated with Jennifer Finney Boylan, whose 2003 memoir of her struggle with gender identity and eventual reassignment surgery–She’s Not There–is one of the most compelling books I’ve read in the last decade. It’s the book that led me to understand and empathize with the T portion of the GLBT community in a way I never had before. Boylan tells her story with such an effective blend of intellect, emotion, wonder, and humor that even the most gender-unconfused readers will feel like they’re spending time with a friend and begin to see past their own ignorances and prejudices. I got to tell her how much her book had impacted me. I also got to tell her that I’d met her once before, long ago, when she was still a young novelist named James.
Here’s a complete list of the awards presented at all three GLAAD ceremonies this year.