GLAAD Awards NYC 2013: Madonna, Degrassi Lesbians, and Trans* Representation

As a team, we’ve been extra excited about the GLAAD Media Awards this year because for the first time ever, Autostraddle dot com is nominated! However, my own personal excitement about the award shows went through the roof when Laneia emailed me and inquired if I would like to attend the NYC show to photograph our very own lovely Lizz interviewing celebs on the red carpet. Would I like to do that? Hello, did Tumblr crash when Quintana finally happened? Which is to say yes, yes I would like that very much.

So Lizz traveled all the way from Med School Land to my humble abode in Brooklyn, and on Saturday afternoon we trekked off on our journey to find Madonna, befriend power lesbians and bring you the best and the brightest coverage from one of three shows GLAAD puts on to celebrate the year in LGBT media. Are you ready for this? Cuz we sure weren’t!

we were really really excited and also totally petrified

we were really really excited and also totally petrified

Neither Lizz nor I had ever attended an awards show before, so we had no idea what to expect. We learned lots of things over the course of the night: If you act like you know what you’re doing people will believe you (and will let you check your coat in the fancy coat room that may or may not have been legit for us to use), a lot of people on the GLAAD staff read Autostraddle, and even at LGBT events, The Patriarchy can totally still plague you in the form of random white dudes who will take up space and try to steal your interviews. Life is so educational! Anyhow, the 2013 NYC GLAAD Media Awards were really fun, and we felt super honored to attend and get the chance to chat with a lot of really influential humans in the LGBT community and media world. Mr. Anderson Silver Fox Cooper didn’t grant interviews and Madonna didn’t even show up on the red carpet, but we did get to chat with a lot of really badass humans, and we took photos with a bunch of them too!

First we spoke with Jennifer Tyrrell, the lesbian mom who started a petition after being removed from her role as a Boy Scouts troop leader because of the BSA’s ban on homosexuals. We spoke with Tyrrell last summer and she was really sincere and inspiring, so we were psyched to get a chance to catch up with her almost a year later, as the BSA still hasn’t come to a satisfying decision. We complimented her snazzy rainbow tie and her sons’ adorable bowties (they were supposed to wear matching rainbow ties too, but the ones Tyrrell ordered never arrived in the mail!) then asked her what she thinks the future looks like for the Boy Scouts of America.

It’s so hard to predict because the BSA has been an institution in America for 100 years and unfortunately it has been run by good old boy type attitudes…I’ve been heartbroken so many times by their constant upset. I’m going to assume that if they don’t make the right decision in May, there are going to be a lot of upset people. I really think it’s going to be chaos for them. We’re going to keep working, I’m not going anywhere until everyone is accepted…I don’t want any kid to go through what Cruz has been through, so that’s whats gotta be done. Truthfully, I think you can’t train the leaders of our future with values and bigotry from a 100 years ago. It just doesn’t work.

later in the evening tyrell gave lizz and inspirational pep talk and assured her she wouldn't die alone so basically jen is the sweetest copyright vanessa friedman

later in the evening jen gave lizz an inspirational pep talk and assured her she wouldn’t die alone so basically jen is the sweetest
copyright vanessa friedman

Then we found Wilson Cruz, aka Rickie from My So-Called Life, and he totally referred to us as “his girls.” Yes, we did die of excitement, obviously.

so like what is angela chase up to these days, just wondering? copyright vanessa friedman

so like what is angela chase up to these days, just wondering?
copyright vanessa friedman

Cruz shared his “stuff I’m excited about tonight” list with us and it included Madonna and Anderson Cooper tied in first place, with a performance by Jake Spears of the Scissor Sisters and meeting Melissa Harris-Perry coming in a close second. He admitted he’s “obsessed” with MHP and we agreed, then Lizz requested that he ask someone if Rachel Maddow and Melissa Harris-Perry could have hour long shows back to back on teevee because that would be a dreamworld. Cruz promised he’d ask MHP about is ASAP. Cruz also has a new movie coming out, Meth Head, that is currently making the rounds at festivals. We asked why he feels it’s an important movie for the LGBTQ community.

Meth Head stars Lukas Haas, and I play his very long-suffering partner as he goes through a pretty traumatic meth addiction. I think Meth Head is important because we have a really huge problem in the LGBT community in regards to meth, and this film is really an opportunity to have a conversation about it and how horrible a drug it is, and not just horrible for the person who has the addiction, but for the people it affects around that person. That’s why it’s important to me.

And also what it was like preparing for his role in the film:

Preparing for the film, I was reliving an emotional process. I actually dated someone who had a meth addiction, so I walked through a personal experience in a cathartic way… it was very much like my experience preparing for My So-Called Life.

I let out an audible squeal when Jazz and her family walked down the carpet — in case you don’t know, Jazz is a 12-year-old trans* girl, and honorary co-founder of the Transkids Purple Rainbow Foundation (her parents are the founders), the youngest person ever to be recognized in The Advocate’s “Top Forty Under 40” annual list, and the star of OWN’s I Am Jazz: A Family in Transition. Jazz was so sweet and wise, and while 12-year-old-me would’ve completely freaked out under the bright lights and pushy reporters, Jazz was calm and composed, telling us about her dress (“It’s actually a tutu and then a little tube top, it’s from this store called Teen Angel,”) and admitting to be just as excited as I was about the Jersey Shore cast members present at the event (we’ll get to Snooki and JWoww in a moment).

copyright vanessa friedman

Jazz, age 12
copyright vanessa friedman

We asked Jazz how it felt to be a role model to so many humans at such a young age — “To me, the age doesn’t matter, just how you feel inside,” — and if she enjoys big media events like the GLAAD awards — “It’s overwhelming, but a lot of fun too. I like taking pictures, so.” Jazz’s family walked the red carpet with her, and we asked her mom, Jeanette, what advice she would give to parents’ of trans* kids. “They need to remember unconditional love is the most important thing. They need to check their egos at the door and put their child first.”

Next: Laverne Cox, Milla Jovovich, Mama June Shannon, Russell Simmons and more!

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Vanessa is a writer, a teacher, and the community editor at Autostraddle. Very hot, very fun, very weird. Find her on twitter and instagram.

Vanessa has written 404 articles for us.


    • i mean would you judge me if i told you we were only allowed to ask snooki & jwoww ONE question on the red carpet and i chose to ask snooki about her hair? because that may have happened. fyi she dyes it every two weeks and relies on extensions so i’m not sure i’d be able to maintain a fully pink ‘do that looks as luscious and perfect as hers does. but i will be dying my tips pink before a-camp!

      also “jewish snooki” = best compliment ever. i can’t explain my weird adoration for the woman, but i really really love her.

      • I’m so happy that was the question you chose to ask her!!! I not so secretly love Snooki and think Jwoww is a babe :D

      • JWoww is very LGBT positive and has talked about having sex with women in the past. I probably would have asked her about that but that would have been inappropriate for the occasion.

        I’m so jealous you guys also got to talk to Milla Jovovich who is still looking very hot these days. I don’t get why people fawn all over Michelle Rodriguez when there is Milla kicking just as much ass on screen AND she actually likes us.

  1. Smash winning for Outstanding Drama series makes me wonder if it was the only show up for that award because Smash winning for anything other than Outstanding Piece of Shit is absolutely preposterous. And this is coming from a huge Megan Hilty fan. If the show didn’t work so hard to convince me Katherine Mcphee should be Broadway royalty and have one-half of it’s gay couple completely disappear I might be a bit easier on them.

  2. great article! i am so proud of you and what a great event you experienced! BSA definitely has to make some policy changes immediately!

    • thank you, joanie! fyi everyone this is my girlfriend’s mom, which makes this the cutest/best comment i have ever received in my life.

    i think you should both quit your day jobs / med school situations and become full-time red carpet flowers.

  4. Fiona and Imogen are probably one of the cutest couples on TV right now and are totally the reason I still watch Degrassi (well, them and the trans character Adam, who is totally rad!)

    Also, Snooki is adorable

    • Yes, please please please do whatever you can to get an in-depth “Fimogen” interview! I don’t like Degrassi much anymore but my obsession with these two (actresses and/or characters) is unhealthy.

  5. Perhaps The Post should’ve been allowed to attend. I don’t know the extent of their homophobic content, but had they had a chance to cover a positive LGBTQ-minded event, maybe their outlook would change?

    • I thought about this a lot over the course of the night. My concern would be that The Post might ask really offensive questions or make disparaging remarks to the very same people that GLAAD is trying to honor.

    • Tarzan, the Post has had access to tons of ‘gay’ events over the years and has continued to publish transphobic bile. They always send over one of the gay page 3 guys who kiss-kiss-lick-lick at the event but any chance the paper gets to continue ridiculing and misgendering trans women they will do with bells on. I don’t like everything GLAAD does by a long shot (although I think they might be improving on trans issues now that Barrios is no longer leading them) but I’m “glaad” they finally put their foot down.

  6. Maybe there would be more lesbians attending the event if glaad didn’t have such a track record of supporting misogynistic things: glee, anyone? ;) Also, why the hell do they keep inviting jersey shore vinny to these things? They literally have full episodes of him on a quest to try to turn over lesbians and get them in his bed. These are the little things that make me lose respect for their organization, regardless of what other shit they’re doing.

  7. aww… Jazz is soooooo adorable!!

    also kudos to GLAAD for showing NYT the door out, awesome!

  8. Degrassi is probably my biggest guilty pleasure. I’ve been watching it since its first season, and Fiona is my favourite out of the current main cast, and probably in my top 5 (if not my number one) from the franchise’s entire cast. I think she’s one of the show’s best-developed characters, which is awesome, since Degrassi’s gay characters are often reduced to nothing but their sexuality (Marco, Riley, Alex for the most part), and their plot lines tend to revolve around either a) problems with accepting their sexuality (whether self-acceptance, acceptance by friends, or acceptance from family) or b) their love lives.

    But Fiona’s stories have also involved her problems with alcohol, the loss of her family’s wealth, as well as her anxieties about being alone. She’s more than just the token lesbian. Also, I knew she was going to be gay from day 1. As soon as she made the comment to Peter about having no plans to date him in her first episode, I actually said out loud, “she’s totally gay”. Just sayin’.

    It’s too bad that Imogen hasn’t been developed as well as Fiona has, but she’s still cute as a button, and a loving, sweet girlfriend.

    Anyway, I would die of happiness if AS did interviews with Christine and Annie. Make it happen, please!

  9. I am so obsessed with Anderson Cooper. My friends make fun of me big time for it but if he were interested in a sexless marriage, I would be his gal! I have no idea why I love him so much but he’s basically my favorite person in the entire world.

  10. This looks and sounds like it was so much fun! Gotta be honest – I’m totally jealous that you met Honey Boo Boo’s mom. I’m a little obsessed with Honey Boo Boo.

  11. Never knew of Jazz before, very inspiring to see such confidence and self-awareness and wonderful to see her parents being so supportive, that itself is inspiring.

    On a side note, I can’t abide Madonna for no rational reason it seems,although possibly my distaste of just about all of her music! tis most strange!

    • How about not abiding Madonna for her browbeating of Sinead O’Conner? (Particularly in reference to a political stunt that O’Conner pulled on SNL.) It was offensive to every woman, not just Sinead!

  12. It’s a wee bit embarrassing, but I watch Degrassi ALL THE TIme only because I have the BIGGEST crush on Annie Clark, but c’mon, can you blame me?

  13. This recap was amazeboobs! I want Jwoww’s dress so badly. But like in a bow tie/vest combo, you know?

  14. This sounds like so much fun!! Awesome recap :) Can’t wait for the other two shows.

    Also, huge props to GLAAD for banning NYP. I’m pleased that GLAAD is taking more interest in supporting the trans* community.

  15. “+ There were a LOT of dudes at the event and a decided lack of lesbians, and a GLAAD staff member told us that the organization had actively tried to get more high-profile lesbians to walk the red carpet this year but hadn’t been able to get anyone to commit — so this is a call to all the Bette-Porter-Power-Dykes out there, please attend the GLAAD awards next year — we are sorely lacking representation!”

    tell glaad they can call me anytime.

    this was adorable! jealous you got lizz time. i want lizz time. lizzzzzzzz.

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