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!
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.
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.
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).
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!
We weren’t the only ones impressed by Jazz — when we met Laverne Cox, transgender actress, producer and advocate as well as a nominee for Outstanding Film-Limited Release with her role of Chantelle in Musical Chairs, she told us that Jazz was the person she was most excited to meet at the awards. Cox was wearing a stunning shiny Guillermo Couture custom dress, with Christian Siriano for Pay-less shoes. “It’s a high/low thing,” she joked. “Pay-less heels with a couture dress!”
The Outstanding Film-Limited Release award is being given out at the San Francisco GLAAD show in May, so Cox could enjoy herself stress-free. She told us about her upcoming project, a new Netflix Original Series show called Orange is the New Black, coming out in June, and shared some of her makeup tips — “I love concealer and I love powder!” She also offered some advice to young trans* women about being comfortable with oneself:
Try and figure out what the truth of what you’re feeling is. Listen to yourself and listen to your feelings. That’s something that I continue to struggle with…to allow myself to have quiet moments where I can ask: What am I really feeling? Whats going on? What do I really want? I would encourage everyone to do that. And try to listen to those voices and let that guide you.
Hello, Miss America! Mallory Hytes Hagan is really really really pretty, but to be honest I know pretty much nothing about the world of beauty pageants so I had no idea if it made sense for her to be present at the GLAAD awards. “Is she gay?!” I excitedly asked Lizz. No, no she is not. But she is on a mission to make sure that people know Miss America supports the LGBT cause. Here’s why she thinks it was important for her to be present at the GLAAD awards.
I think people have misconceived notions about what it means to be part of the Miss America Organization. We’re a very open and loving community and we’re a huge family. I think it’s very important for me to be here to show that the Miss America Organization is evolving and that we are a huge supporter of everyone! Because we think that it’s very important to remain true to who you are and free to be yourself.
Also her manager/publicist/dude who followed her down the carpet was super intense and kept saying, “Just one question!” and we almost didn’t get to ask her anything at all but then Lizz was a total boss and just went for it so we worked really hard to talk to this gorgeous human for you, is what I’m saying. It’s because we love you so much.
GLAAD President Herndon Graddick walked the red carpet with Lauren Foster, trans model and GLAAD Miami Leadership Council co-chair. He was one of our lengthiest interviews, and he was really positive and approachable.
Lizz: Can you tell me what was your most proud moment of this past year?
Graddick: You know the thing that I’m most proud of is the Miss Universe pageant changing their roles to allow for the inclusion of transgender women. Not just in the United States, but all around the world. I think that the Miss Universe pageant is the sort of apotheosis of womanhood and I think that the fact that they accept transgender women as the women they are really is a globally significant event.
L: What are you looking forward to in this next year, what GLAAD has on deck?
G: I want to get more transgender people on TV. I’m determined that we’re going to win the Boy Scout fight in the short order and finally change an archaic and bigoted policy that exists within the most revered of American institutions. I think it’s 2013 and it’s time for that to be over…I think we’re on the cusp of victory and everybody knows it.
L: What are you most excited for tonight?
G: It’s really hard for me to say. I’m so grateful to a lot of the people involved that it’s hard for me to narrow it down to one thing. Anderson has been a friend of mine for many years and I’ve always been a fan of his journalism. I’m very proud that we could recognize [his journalism] and I’m proud that Madonna can be here to present to him. I’m proud of the fact that if you look at the audience of the event tonight you’ll find executives from every news organization in the country and I think it’s a real indication that the LGBT rights movement has moved beyond a left/right issue to just an issue of human rights. And I think that ours is the human rights issue of our time in the United States and so to be a part of that is really humbling.
Graddick also gave a great speech during the actual show wherein he emphasized that “New GLAAD” is making trans* rights a priority and said, “We’re not just against something, we’re for something: equality.” We agree!
Milla Jovovich looked incredible and is gorgeous and it was really tough to form sentences around her but Lizz did a great job and managed to be hilarious — “you look like you just finished getting undressed, but in a good way!” — and articulate — “What are you most excited about tonight?”
You know, I’m most excited to just really see a movement forward. Every year the GLAAD Awards take more and more steps forward and as a mother, I want to know that if my daughter in ten years time says, “Mom, I’m gay,” that she’s going to grow up in a world that’s going to accept her, that’s not going to discriminate against her, that’s gonna support her and treat her like every person in America and in the world should be treated, like a real human being.
Well okay excuse me while I go cry joyous tears of, “Wow, you’re such a good mom.” And while we’re on the Amazing Mom Of The Year theme, let’s chat with June “Mama” Shannon, Honey Boo Boo’s mom and nominee for Outstanding Reality Program with the “It Is What It Is” episode of Here Comes Honey Boo Boo. We told June that lesbians love her, per Fonseca’s request and also because it’s the truth, and she showed a mixture of emotions ranging from touched to bewildered. We also asked what she, as a mom, felt about the Boy Scouts of America situation currently dragging on and her answer made me fall even deeper in love with her:
I think everybody should have a chance to do whatever they want to do. I really honestly believe that. Woman, man, gay, transgender, whatever…everybody should have the same right as the next person.
Russell Simmons gave us a great interview!
Lizz: You’ve been attending the GLAAD awards for years now. Why is it important to you to attend?
Simmons: I think it’s important to support everyone’s quest for freedom. If you want freedom for yourself, you have to give it to everybody.
L: You’re a huge figure in the music world. Where do you think the music industry is going in terms of accepting and promoting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender artists?
S: I think we’re moving in the right direction. I think we’re moving too slow still, but we have sped up some, and that’s nice.
L: And what do you think individual people in the community or people in the music community can do to speed up that progress?
S: I think everybody can show up and use their celebrity if they can to give to others, and they should also show up with their money and the way that they vote, and the way that they treat other people, just in general, as individuals. What they do is a reflection of what the world does, as well.
Lizz was very excited to interview Avan Jogia, as you can see in this adorable photo of her being adorably excited to interview him! He played Beck Oliver on Nickelodian’s Victorous, he’s starring in ABC Family’s upcoming show Twisted, and he co-founded Straight But Not Narrow with Josh Hutcherson, an online PSA organization in support of the LGBT community. Lizz asked what he was wearing and he didn’t know, but she helped him figure it out (Liberty Prints, fyi) and also asked him to tell us more about his PSA project.
It’s straight people talking to straight teens about their gay friends and basically works as a straight ally group. My philosophy is if your gay friend or a gay teen is being bullied and you don’t say anything, then that apathy is as loud or maybe even louder than the insults that are being thrown at this kid. And if you don’t say anything, that makes you a perpetrator, or a bully.
The point of Straight But Not Narrow is to combat apathy and silence in young allies.
Look, real talk? Lizz and I liked every celebrity we met. But our absolute above and beyond favorites of the evening were Cristine Prosperi and Annie Clark. The pair play Imogen and Fiona, the lesbian couple on Degrassi (Imogen’s character is sexually fluid, Fiona’s is a lesbian), which was nominated for Outstanding Drama Series. In retrospect, I wish we’d asked the girls more hard-hitting questions on the red carpet; this is my major regret of the evening. I think both Lizz and I just got super tongue-tied and excited, so we stuck with pretty superficial questions — in case you were wondering, the girls were both wearing “BCBG head to toe,” and they went shopping for their dresses together. They both just shot new movies; Prosperi did Nicky Deuce, a Nickelodeon movie of the week, and Clark did a low budget indie thriller called Solo.
After kicking ourselves repeatedly for not asking more about their roles on Degrassi and how they feel they’re impacting LGBT kids, we ran into the girls at the after party and they continued to be total sweethearts. We’re keeping our fingers crossed that we can connect with them in the future and bring you an in-depth chat with them, because honestly, they’re gorgeous and funny and fun and gracious and I can’t say enough good things about them. And I swear it’s not just because they were fellow Canadians.
Next: Dispatches from the actual awards — AKA MADONNA TIME — plus bonus shots from the red carpet
Are you tired now? We were so tired after the red carpet, and the show hadn’t even begun! I’m not going to recap the whole show for you because honestly it reminded me of a giant Bar Mitzvah and also because I’m shocked if you’re still reading this epic review, but I will tell you that three awards were announced (the rest will be announced at the upcoming shows in LA and San Francisco) and Smash won Outstanding Drama Series, How to Survive a Plague won Outstanding Documentary and The Amazing Race won Outstanding Reality Program. Madonna presented The Vito Russo Award to Anderson Cooper; the award is presented annually and honors an openly LGBT media professional who has made a significant different promoting equality for the LGBT community.
The audience flipped out when Madonna got on stage (in a Boy Scout uniform, no less!) but she basically told everyone to cool their jets and asked the audience to be seated, telling us we weren’t at a concert and she had some stuff to say. She delivered a pretty rad speech, expressing dismay over the homophobia and transphobia still rife in this country, imploring the audience: “I don’t know about you but I can’t take this shit anymore. It’s 2013 people, we live in America, land of the free and home of the brave? That’s a question, not a statement.” She called Anderson Cooper “a freedom fighter [and] a badass motherfucker,” and then added, “you’re intelligent, you’re gorgeous, and you look great in a suit.”
At this point Lizz and I were both an insane combo of exhausted and slightly-tipsy-possibly-drunk, so we did our best to mingle with other media types, accept praise when people told us Autostraddle is sassy and hilarious and eventually make our way to the after party. We headed back to Brooklyn at around 3am, which is way past my bedtime, and we bought Pirate’s Booty and Nutella and woke my girlfriend up and forced her to listen to us talk about everything included in this post and then some. I know, I felt bad for her too. We just had so much fun and really want to tell everyone all about it!
Finally, here are some more awards and (sort of) juicy tidbits from the evening:
+ Melissa Harris Perry won for Outstanding TV Journalism for “Being Transgender In America”
+ The New York Post was denied a press pass to the event because of their transphobic coverage.
+ Sabrina Rubin Erdely‘s “School Of Hate: One Town’s War On Gay Teens” (Rolling Stone) won for Outstanding Magazine Article
+ We took a photobooth picture with Cristine and Annie, aka the Degrassi lesbians — thanks Queerty for the cool photobooth attraction at the after party!
+ I spotted trans* author and activist Jenny Boylan, got the courage to go up to her and let her know how much I loved her first book (She’s Not There: A Life In Two Genders), and then she gifted me a copy of her latest book, Stuck In The Middle With You: Parenthood in Three Genders! She was so, so nice and looked gorgeous in a long red dress.
+ Anthony Carrino and John Colaneri of HGTV’s Kitchen Cousins gave Lizz personal advice about how to best restore her old sewing machine. They actually offered to visit her home and do the project themselves, but I think they were kidding… which is a shame, because that would make a great DIY post here on Autostraddle, right?!
+ 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!
Let’s finish this with a bunch of extra photos, because why the heck not? This weekend Lizz taught me the phrase “fresh to death” and I’d like to go on record saying every single human at the event was indeed looking fresh to death, with the exception of a few select members of The Patriarchy who shall remain nameless. Overall I’d give the New York City 2013 GLAAD Awards five outta five stars. Next up: California!
Thank you and goodnight!