The goal of the GLAAD Media Awards is to honor and celebrate fair, accurate, and inclusive representation of the LGBTQ community and the issues that affect our lives. Since its inception in 1990, the GMA has grown to be the most visible annual LGBTQ awards show in the world, sending powerful messages of acceptance to audiences globally.
This year, as always, The 34th Annual GMAs sought to deliver an impactful mix of red carpet arrivals, iconic main stage moments celebrating excellent queer media, and powerful call-to-actions from entertainment leaders that demonstrate the value of representation and inclusion of LGBTQ people across every aperture.
GLAAD also wanted to spotlight issues affecting the LGBTQ community this year: drag bans; violence against LGBTQ people, including the Club Q shooting; and anti-trans legislation, specifically laws that restrict and target trans youth.
Finally, the GLAAD Media Awards serves as GLAAD’s largest fundraiser of the year to support global and cultural change, and a portion of GLAAD’s operating costs.
GLAAD Media Awards is an interdepartmental “all hands on deck” project for the organization. Primarily GLAAD’s Development team works to attract sponsors and corporate partners to fund and support the ceremony, as well as oversees the operational logistics for both ceremonies. GLAAD’s Communications team secures talent for the event, invites press and LGBTQ notables, manages the submissions process for the awards panel, and executes a robust press strategy to ensure the evening is being covered across the news landscape.
Multiple onstage moments and speeches were crafted to uplift the aforementioned issues affecting the LGBTQ community. Club Q Survivor Michael Anderson was invited to present the Advocate for Change Award to Christina Aguilera, of whom Anderson is a lifelong fan.
GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis boldly called out anti-LGBTQ legislation while calling for improved gun control laws during her keynote speech, stating: “We want an America where AR-15 assault rifles do not have more rights than people of color, women, and LGBTQ Americans.
In addition, GLAAD spotlighted previously censured state representatives Zooey Zephyr and Mauree Turner by having them onstage to deliver remarks on trans joy, the power of the vote, and speaking out in the face of censorship. “For us to remain silent in the face of these attacks is to be complicit in our own eradication, and we cannot, and will not, do that,” Zephyr stated.
Later, The White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre delivered a heartfelt message to trans youth: “You are perfect just the way you are. You are loved. And we have your back.”
The 34th Annual GLAAD Media Awards was a global success, amassing over 17.3B press impressions, coverage from over 500 media outlets, and over $5M raised for national and global culture change.
On the Los Angeles ceremony, Variety wrote, “Yes, the 34th Annual GLAAD Media Awards was, as always, a spirited celebration of the best in LGBTQ+ inclusion and representation in film, television music and more. But this year it also served as a potent rallying cry, in the face of a spike in discrimination evidenced in several state legislatures’ recent anti-trans laws, curriculum policies and drag show bans.”
During the ceremony, Christina Aguilera received the Advocate for Change Award, and Bad Bunny received the Vanguard Award. Other attendees included Angelica Ross, Betty Who, Billy Eichner, and Gabrielle Union.
Additionally, at the New York ceremony Texas Natives Maren Morris and Jonathan Van Ness sent a powerful message of support to queer southerners, while accepting GLAAD’s Excellence in Media and Vito Russo Award, respectively.
Special appearances were made by Joel Kim Booster, Frankie Grande, Tamron Hall, and Bowen Yang. The Queer Review championed GLAAD’s President & CEO Sarah Kate Ellis’s “galvanizing keynote speech.”