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Hornet was on the red carpet at the 2018 GLAAD Media Awards in New York City, interviewing the plethora of LGBTQ celebrities in attendance. We asked them about their first queer crush and posed a question: If you could say one thing to your younger self, what would you say?
The night began in a grand way with a very special performance by Adam Lambert and Melissa Etheridge, who joined forces for a powerful duet of Etheridge’s hit song “I’m the Only One.” It’s been 25 years since the musical icon released her record Yes I Am and used her platform to increase visibility for the LGBTQ community by coming out publicly as lesbian.
Next, The Handmaid’s Tale and Orange Is the New Black star Samira Wiley received the Vito Russo Award. It was presented to her by her costar in The Handmaids Tale, Alexis Bledel, who spoke about Wiley’s impact: “With her roles on TV, and the way she carries herself alongside her wife Lauren in real life, I credit Samira with bringing powerful LGBTQ visibility to Hollywood and to our world.”
Wiley accepted the award and in her speech sent a powerful message of support to LGBTQ youth. “You are loved,” Wiley said. “You have a community that is here for you and is dedicated to protecting you and accepts you for exactly who you are, right in this moment.”
Jay-Z‘s mother, Gloria Carter, accepted a Special Recognition Award on behalf of her son for the song “Smile” off of his album 4:44. The award was presented to her by Robin Roberts, host of ABC’s Good Morning America.
The night closed with Selma and A Wrinkle In Time director Ava DuVernay receiving the Excellence in Media Award for her intersectional advocacy. The award was presented to her by surprise guest Sen. Cory Booker, who spoke about DuVernay’s work and impact. He said, “Ava stands up for women. For people of color. For the LGBTQ community. She advocates for diverse storylines on-screen, and a diverse workforce behind the scenes. She represents for everyone on the margins, whose voices are not heard and not valued, especially right now.”
DuVernay took to the stage to accept her Excellence in Media Award and spoke about inclusion in Hollywood and intersectionality. “People ask me a lot about being an activist and an artist,” she said. “To me they are one in the same. To be an activist, one must be highly creative. It takes great imagination to envision a world and a way of being that is not there. That’s the same definition of art to me. When I look at the many warriors who have to apply this art — this imagination — to their very lives as LGBTQ people, to just survive in this country, I stand in salute.”