On the heels of a rare public gaffe for The Walt Disney Co. — regarding the media giant’s silence over Florida’s incendiary “Don’t Say Gay” law — the GLAAD Media Awards used its annual Los Angeles show to caution the rest of Hollywood about the perils of ignoring the LGBT community.
“Don’t wait until you’re in the hot seat,” the media watchdog’s president and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis bluntly told the crowd at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on Saturday. “There’s no more time to sit on the sidelines. We need Hollywood on the front lines, fighting for our rights and telling our stories.”
As if GLAAD would let the Disney debacle go unchecked. Ellis went further, saying she will call on Hollywood “to take meaningful action and will soon convene the biggest brands, agencies, studios and streamers together with two goals: one, to commit to improving the quantity, quality and diversity of LGBTQ images, especially in kids and family programming. And, two, to speak out against anti-LGBTQ legislation in favor of rights like the Equality Act.”
Before honorees including country crossover star Kacey Musgraves and Golden Globe winner Michaela Jaé Rodriguez, Ellis celebrated progress made in recent months — like Democrats pushing a renewed call to end bans on blood donations from gay and bisexual men, eradicating HIV stigma, and working with major social platforms like TikTok to protect queer youth. Award show organizers also pointed out an encouraging statistic — roughly 200 out queer actors RSVP’d to walk the show’s red carpet.
Encouraging as that might be, Ellis also spoke plainly about attacks on human rights across the country.
“In just one day, on March 8, the Florida Senate passed the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill, which was signed into law this past week. The South Dakota Senate passed a bill that bans discussion of ‘divisive concepts’ like race and sex in college courses. The Idaho House of Representatives passed a bill that would send librarians to jail if they let minors check out books that include LGBTQ topics. And the New Jersey Supreme Court denied an appeal that would bar a religious organization from offering so-called ‘conversion therapy,'” she said.
“This all happened not in one month, not in one week, but all in one day,” she concluded.
As leadership and talent from every single mainstream content creator looked on, Ellis delivered a final shot across the bow: “I expect every industry executive in this room to join us. GLAAD will give you the playbook. But we wont give you a pass.”