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Judy Shepard honored by GLAAD, America Airlines
Judy Shepard honored by GLAAD, America Airlines
On Monday, March 17, American Airlines hosted an informal reception for Judy Shepard, the human rights activist and founder of The Matthew Shepard Foundation. The reception was held at the American Airlines Roundabout Theater in Times Square to honor Judy for her courageous work in the fight against hate crime violence. Shepard received a Media Award the following day from GLAAD - along with Barbara Walters, Kevin Bacon, Kyra Sedgwick, Alan Cumming and Graham Norton - as it honored her and Brian Graden, president of MTV Networks entertainment, at the 19th Annual GLAAD Media Awards in New York.

The GLAAD Media Awards recognize and honor media for their fair, accurate and inclusive representations of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community and the issues that affect their lives.

At the ceremony, American Idol judge Randy Jackson and actor Alec Mapa presented the Vito Russo Award to Brian Graden. The Vito Russo Award is presented to an openly Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual or Transgender media professional who has made a significant difference in promoting equal rights for the LGBT community.

"Should we really accept present reality?" Graden said accepting his award. "A world where jobs are not protected? Where kids like Sean [Kennedy] are still dying because we have no hate crimes legislation? Where I can serve in the military but I have to shut up about it? Where I can't marry the man I love or have a family? Once and for all, the answer is, never shall we accept that reality & because we are not invisible."

Also at the event, Lesbian entertainer Kate Clinton presented the Excellence in Media Award to Judy Shepard in recognition of Shepard's work to promote full equality for the LGBT community through the Matthew Shepard Foundation. The Excellence in Media Award is presented to individuals who, through their work, have increased the visibility and understanding of the LGBT community in the media.

"When they asked me to receive this award, I laughed," Shepard said in her acceptance speech. "I'm just a mom who does what a mom does when something really means a lot to them. They try to engage their friends and their community and everyone in the same fight. That's what I did. I appreciate this award so much & [but] I'm no different than anyone else here tonight, or out there in the world, trying to make a difference."

Barbara Walters accepted a GLAAD Media Award for the 20/20 piece "My Secret Self: A Story of Transgender Children," which shared the award for Outstanding TV Journalism-Newsmagazine with "Don't Ask Don't Tell" from 60 Minutes. Presenter Mariska Hargitay accepted on behalf of 60 Minutes. Episcopalian Bishop V. Gene Robinson and director Daniel Karslake accepted the award for Outstanding Documentary for For the Bible Tells Me So. And co-writer and producer Gal Uchovsky accepted for The Bubble, recipient of the GLAAD Media Award for Outstanding Film - Limited Release.

Loretta Devine and Anika Noni Rose presented a Special Recognition award to the cable network BET J for its LGBT-inclusive programming, and executive producer Sean Johnson accepted the award for the network.

"To be frank, there's a lack of positive African American LGBT images in the media," Johnson said during his acceptance. "For many people it's hard to be yourself if you can't see yourself. It's our hope that we are doing our part to change this and to establish an honest dialogue in the community."

A GLAAD press release

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