GLAAD Media Awards

Each year the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) gives out a number of media awards to honor outstanding images and stories of LGBT people. Since they first began in 1990, they’ve become the single most prestigious recognition of its kind. In 2012, the 23rd GLAAD Media Awards were presented in ceremonies in New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco. This last one just took place last weekend.

A few weeks ago I talked to Rich Ferraro, Director of Communications at the organization, about the awards and the organization’s influence in the media.

How did the GLAAD Media Awards start? What is their purpose?
GLAAD is an organization that works with the media to tell stories about lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender people. We work with a wide range of media from entertainment outlets, movie studios and TV networks to national news outlets in America, religious press, sports media, online media. We’ve seen that when people hear stories about LGBT people, and allies of LGBT people, they come to learn that LGBT people deserve the same opportunities as they do.

The GLAAD Media Awards honor those stories. They began with an awards ceremony in New York 23 years ago with just a handful of honorees, because LGBT issues were not so spoken about in the media, and certainly not spoken about in a positive way. We wanted a way to say you’re doing a good job, and we want others to follow. And now what we’ve seen is that the awards have become the most visible LGBT event in America, and likely around the world. We’ve had celebrities from Ricky Martin to Ellen Degeneres and Josh Hutcherson, star of The Hunger Games.

Can you tell me about the process of choosing honorees?
We have nominees in English and Spanish-language for a total of 35 categories including news, entertainment, TV, film, as well as some smaller parts of our culture like theatre, comic books, where stories of LGBT people are impacting our culture and creating change. GLAAD has a series of volunteer juries with expertise and with industry experience in all of these different areas. The juries come up with a pool of nominees with a termometer in the media year-round, whether it’s music artists who have used their recent albums to raise awareness on LGBT issues, or monitoring local news media.

GLAAD’s Board of Directors, staff and some of our major donors choose. They vote on the winners. The criteria for voting on the awards recipients is that they are fair, accurate and inclusive of our community, of the full diversity in the LGBT community, it should be original content, a news story that we haven’t heard before, tactful, reaching Americans and those around the world, and overall quality.

Ricky Martin, award winner.

There are three ceremonies. Is there a different set of categories or audience for each? Do they have different goals?
The goal of each ceremony is to provide a platform for celebrities and media outlets to talk about their support for LGBT people. It is also to honor public figures and media outlets who are doing an exemplary job. The GLAAD Media Awards have become an industry benchmark that a lot of different movie studios, production companies, newspapers and television networks strive for. They want this recognition. They want to know that they are doing a good job for our community.

The GLAAD Media Awards are also a fundraiser for GLAAD’s work year-round to tell stories of LGBT people. The awards in the three different cities are part of our fundraising. It’s also kind of a way for us to get in front of different communities around the country. In addition to the people who attend the events, each of these has a program with young adults, LGBT and their allies, who come to the awards for free through generous donations from our sponsors. They are able to interact with others like them, to say hello to celebrities who support them for who they are, and they get to see the show.

Do you think the GLAAD Media Awards somehow help push forward or enhance someone’s career, a certain media or show’s success?
I think what they’ve done is they’ve pushed celebrities, public figures and media to do a better and more proactive job at telling LGBT stories.

Cory Monteith and Naya Rivera, stars of “Glee” and this year’s hosts at the NYC ceremony.

Speaking of GLAAD’s work more generally, where does GLAAD draw the line between calling out on media’s unfair representation of LGBT people and issues, holding them accountable for their words and images, and making it seem as if GLAAD is maybe trying to censor the media?
More and more when we’re calling out celebrities or media outlets, we’re trying to do more than just get an apology. We’re trying to make it a teachable moment for our culture, and we’re trying to start a national dialogue.

Last year Tracy Morgan, a comedian and actor, made a joke in a standup routine that if his son was gay he would stab him. At GLAAD we hear stories when we work with organizations such as The Trevor Project, we know of the harm and what could happen to LGBT young people when their parents don’t accept them. We’ve also heard terrible stories about the violence that LGBT people face. What we wanted with Tracy was not to bully him into an apology, not to get a two-sentence press statement, but we wanted to use that as a way to really start a national dialogue about what it means when parents reject their LGBT kids, and the violence that LGBT people face.

We spoke with Tracy Morgan, we told him we wanted to take him to The Ali Forney Center, which is a homeless shelter for LGBTs in New York City. He went there with us, he met with young adults whose parents didn’t approve of who they were, and as a result these kids were turned away. Thankfully they had an organization such as The Ali Forney Center to welcome them.

Tracy then spoke with the media and told his fans, who are people that maybe wouldn’t generally hear of this, about why they should accept LGBT people. They heard from someone they admire and from someone whose career they follow that the right thing to do is to accept your kids no matter what. We also worked with teens at The Ali Forney Center to get them to talk about their own stories in the press. After they met with Tracy they went to The Daily News, The Wall Street Journal, MTV News, to some really powerful and international news publications so they could talk, not only about meeting with Tracy but also about their own personal stories.

More and more we’re really trying to push the envelopes. It’s not so much about GLAAD versus the media. It’s about GLAAD telling a wider story.

You can follow Rich Ferraro and GLAAD on Twitter, learn more about GLAAD Media Awards and this year’s honorees here, and read about a project I collaborate with on GLAAD’s blog.


Les Nouvelles: La ficción supera la ficción

*Colaboración de Lourdes Alvaradejo (lulu@enriquetorremolina.com).

Durante un tiempo quise seguir las recapitulaciones que una conocida mía escribe para un portal de internet bastante reconocido, pero después de un par de semanas dejé de leerlas. Algo hacía falta. En After Ellen (recomendadísimo) comenzaron a usar un nuevo formato, Gay Girl’s Goggles, para hacer esto. Buscaban el a veces muy obvio subtexto en las series.

Hay algunos programas en los que no necesitas hacer este ejercicio: ¡las lenchas están ahí! Ejemplo de ello son Glee con Brittany y Santana, Grey’s Anatomy con Arizona y Callie, Pretty little liars con Emily y sus veinte novias, entre algunas otras. En otros casos, se han dado la tarea de exponer lo que hay que leer entre líneas, como sucede en 2 Broke Girls, 30 Rock, Nurse Jackie. En estos programas, aunque no sea la intención de los escritores, no podemos evitar ver esos momentos entre los personajes principales. ¿A quién le podemos decir sobre ello? Pues a nuestras amigas lenchas. Sólo ellas entenderían. O a la inmensa comunidad que se ha desarrollado en internet en los últimos años.

Es increíble lo que uno se encuentra en los portales de internet, y recientemente, una de las cosas que más me llama la atención son los shippings. Urban Dictionary lo define mejor que yo: A term used to describe fan fictions that take previously created characters and put them as a pair. It usually refers to romantic relationships, but it can refer to platonic ones as well.

Si bien esto no es nuevo -la gente siempre ha tenido imaginación-, internet ha sido el punto de encuentro para cualquier número de intereses y ha cobrado gran fuerza. El shipping sucede con personajes hetero, gay, inventados y hasta con los actores de las series. Se le asigna un nombre a la pareja, como fue el caso de “Brangelina” (tendrían que vivir debajo de una piedra para no haber escuchado este nombre) o “Brittana” (Brittany + Santana). Eso me pasó cuando comencé a ver Glee: convencida que las dos porristas deberían estar juntas, me hizo pensar en ello.

Un día, como broma, los escritores de esta serie pusieron una de las líneas que hizo a muchas –entre ellas yo– reír mucho. Estaban varios de los personajes discutiendo sobre la vida romántica de algún otro, cuando Brittany dijo: sex isn’t dating. If it was, me and Santana would be dating. Esto desató una gran campaña en internet. Los fans de la serie y de la pareja esperaban que algo sucediera con ellas.

Lo que posiblemente inició como una idea divertida para los escritores terminó como una realidad para los espectadores. Y así fue como, después de una serie de capítulos sin sentido (porque, si ustedes ven Glee, saben que hace tiempo se perdió la idea de trama), Santana y Brittany recibieron una historia. Santana salió (¿la sacaron?) del clóset, recibieron ayuda de una maestra para aceptar y procesar sus sentimientos, hasta que ahora son una feliz pareja que celebra el 14 de febrero besándose en televisión internacional.

Los productores y escritores de la serie podrían haber ignorado los comentarios de internet, los tumblrs dedicados a Brittana, los tweets en que demandaban un beso entre las dos porristas, pero, a final de cuentas, hicieron lo que el público les pedía. Hubo quienes se incomodaron: ¿cómo podían poner algo así en Glee? Pero esta serie lo hizo, y gracias a ello muchos adolescentes ahora ven sus propias luchas internas reflejadas en las historias de los varios personajes de la serie. Si bien ésta no es la única salida, ¿no hace esto una gran diferencia para los que ven la serie?

Aquí un intercambio de tweets entre una seguidora y shipper de Brittany y Santana y escritores de Glee sobre por qué estos personajes no se habían besado como el resto de las parejas en la serie. Después, durante el capítulo del 14 de febrero, las dos porristas se besaron:

Más allá del entretenimiento que da leer las recapitulaciones, saber de la existencia de tumblrs, historias, fotos, también es relevante saber que los actores que ahora interpretan a estos personajes, han dejado atrás el miedo que existía por interpretar personajes LGBT. Naya Rivera (Santana) condujo los GLAAD Awards este año junto con Cory Monteith (Finn, el la misma serie), y Dianna Agron (Quinn) hará lo propio el próximo 2 de junio en San Francisco. Esta realidad, cabe mencionar, dista de ser la misma que en nuestro país, pero por algún lado debemos empezar.

Mientras tanto, internet seguirá siendo un lugar de ideas y pequeños cambios, como lo sucedido recientemente: en E! Online hicieron una encuesta de las mejores parejas en televisión. Los usuarios del sitio podían nominar a las parejas que quisieran, reales (dentro de la serie) o ficticias.

Las dos parejas finalistas, “Faberry” (Quinn Fabray y Rachel Berry), y Dean & Castiel de la serie “Supernatural”.

El resultado de la encuesta lo publicaron el 14 de febrero con la siguiente declaración:

Rachel Berry (Lea Michele) and Quinn Fabray (Dianna Agron) from Glee have won our TV’s Top Couple megapoll! The fans for “Faberry” (Fabray/Berry), as they call themselves, set a new record high for page turns on E! Online for any single post in the entire history of the website. Now, I know what many of you who casually watch Glee are thinking: What the what?! Are Rachel and Quinn even a couple? And, wait a minute, aren’t they straight? Why, yes, they are, as far as we know. But the “Faberry” fans believe these two belong together.

¿La respuesta de las actrices? Esta imagen vía la cuenta de Twitter de Dianna Agron con siguiente mensaje “In honor of the voters!”

Estos pequeños y muy simples detalles pueden tener un impacto mayor que muchas marchas de orgullo mal organizadas o movimientos activistas divididos. Al menos aquí, quienes se reconocen como fanáticos de una serie o pareja de televisión unen sus esfuerzos y alcanzan a un gran número de personas, simplemente organizándose en internet.