Monday, May 02, 2005

Glamor, Glitz, and GLAAD

Despite living in Los Angeles for most of our adult lives, neither my husband nor I had ever been to one of those glamorous Hollywood award events like the Academy Awards or the Golden Globes, so when we had an opportunity to attend the GLAAD Media Awards last Saturday courtesy of a friend's friend's corporate sponsor, we jumped at the chance. GLAAD, an organization chartered to promote the fair and inclusive representation of lesbians and gay men in the media, has grown to the point where their annual awards show (actually divided between LA, New York, and San Francisco for the various media, with LA of course being film and television) is a big-time star-studded gala, like a gay version of the Oscars. Like the Oscars, it's in the Kodak Theater in Hollywood. The evening was as fabulous as we'd hoped. It was black-tie optional, and most of the men were in tuxes and the women in gorgeous gowns, although all sorts of fashion statements could be seen. The awards show itself was quite enjoyable. Margaret Cho opened the show and was as funny as ever. (We didn't see them, but apparently the Fred Phelps gang were outside with their usual "God Hates Fags" protest signs. Of them, Margaret Cho said, "You know, I really wish Jesus would come back. He'd come back and see those people and say 'This is NOT what I meant!'") There were a number of fun presenters, including Desperate Housewives Marcia Cross and Felicity Huffman (who staged a dramatic kiss), Jason Alexander flanked by two hot actresses from "The L Word" (and was a good sport about it), Brendan Fraser (who introduced a feature award to Bill Condon), John Stamos (who had been called "hot" by Carson Kressley of Queer Eye, and also by Jason Alexander, and gamely replied "I'm flattered, Carson, but I think Kyan is more my type"), Garry Marshall (who had a great routine about the "gay lingo" he was trying to learn), several of the Queer As Folk boys and girls, and my personal favorite, Jennifer Coolidge who was as funny as ever. (Loved her in Testosterone. And every time she's on "Joey", I'm like "turn up the volume, now's the really good part!") The finale of the award show was Liza Minelli, who graciously received the Vanguard award and sang a number. After the award show there was a VIP dinner (with actually pretty good food) and a live auction with some fun items, including a walk-on part on Desperate Housewives that went for $20K.

This was the 20th anniversary of GLAAD's founding back in 1985 to protest the New York Post's appalling coverage of the AIDS crisis. There were some retrospectives offered during the evening, and it is truly remarkable to reflect on how much things have changed for lesbians and gay men in the last 20 years. While I am not entirely comfortable with some of GLAAD's tactics (I'd prefer to see "bad speech" countered with better speech rather than suppression), it's clear to me that the progress of the last two decades is due to increased gay visibility, both on a personal level and in the media. Our biggest enemy is ignorance, and the way to fight it is with truth, personally, in print, and on the screen and stage.

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