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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, December 10, 2010 - Volume 38 Issue 50
GLAAD celebrates 5th anniversary
Arts & Entertainment
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GLAAD celebrates 5th anniversary

by Shaun Knittel - SGN Associate Editor

The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) celebrated its 25th anniversary on December 3 with a cocktail party at the Harmony Gold Theatre in Los Angeles, California. The event drew such celebrity attendees as Chaz Bono, Jean Smart, Amber Heard, and Ed Begley, Jr., who toasted the group - which focuses on how the LGBT community is presented in the media.

GLAAD was formed in 1985 in New York to protest the New York Post's coverage of the AIDS epidemic. Since its inception, the organization has gone on to push for several changes throughout the media, most recently with the inclusion of a same-sex couple on the viewer-voted wedding contest on NBC's Today show as well as modifications to how LGBT persons are referred to in the Associated Press Stylebook.

We've made great progress in these media capitals, said Jarrett Barrios, president of GLAAD. Beyond Hollywood, beyond New York, between these blue states, right at this nation's red center, we have miles to go. How far do we still have to go to ensure that an environment of respect exists for all LGBT people?

The organization annually holds the GLAAD Media Awards and releases the Where We Are on TV report, which tracks LGBT characters on network shows. The 2010 report found that there were 23 Gay and Bisexual characters on scripted network TV out of a total of 600 - up 3% from last season.

The steady stream of negative portrayals and censorship of Gay and Lesbian lives on film and television has given way to much more realistic and life-affirming depictions, such as this year's The Kids Are All Right and TV's Glee, said Richard Jennings, a former president of GLAAD who received the first-ever Founder's Award at the event.

Throughout the ceremony, attendees heard from former GLAAD board members, watched video montages of hallmark moments from the organization's past 25 years - such as when Ellen DeGeneres' character revealed she was a Lesbian on her ABC sitcom in 1997 - and hissed at mentions of Anita Bryant, Laura Schlessinger, John McCain, and Mel Gibson.

Jonathan Murray, co-creator of MTV's The Real World, the long-running reality TV series that regularly includes Gay and Lesbian cast members, was bestowed with the Pioneer Award, given to a person or organization who significantly contributes to raising LGBT visibility in the media. Murray admitted the series never received much criticism.

I think it's because it was real, he said. How can you argue with something that's real?

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