By MEGAN TOWNSEND, GLAAD Entertainment/Operations Coordinator
NEW YORK — TV icon and LGBT advocate George Takei was honored with GLAAD’s Vito Russo Award at the 25th annual GLAAD Media Awards in New York City on May 3.
The award was presented by the director of Takei’s upcoming Broadway musical “Allegiance,” Stafford Arima. The Vito Russo Award is presented to an openly lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender media professional who has made a significant difference in promoting equality.
In his acceptance speech, Takei said, “But as long as LGBT people can be fired from their job for simply being who they are, our work isn’t done yet. As long as young people are kicked out of their families just for being who they are, our work is not done yet. As long as people are be bullied into feeling that their lives are so hopeless that they are driven to self-destructive acts, our work is not done.
“Working in concert with GLAAD, with its history of achievement and the legacy of Vito Russo, we will make this a better world, a more equal society of all people…I accept the GLAAD Vito Russo Award with pride, and with humility and with resolve.” (Russo was an LGBT activist, film historian and author best remembered as the author of “The Celluloid Closet.”)
Over his career, the actor, advocate, social media star and author has remained one of the most outspoken LGBT voices in Hollywood. Since coming out publicly in 2005, he has spoken out on issues including marriage equality, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), so-called “ex-gay therapy,” and more.
He has worked closely with GLAAD to bring equality to the Boy Scouts and supported GLAAD’s Spirit Day campaign to show support for LGBT youth and end anti-LGBT bullying.
“To Be Takei,” a documentary about Takei’s life and career, premiered at Sundance in January and is scheduled for a theatrical release this summer.
Also at the event, GLAAD President Sarah Kate Ellis received two standing ovations after being introduced by LGBT icon David Mixner. She shared her vision for GLAAD, underscoring how important it is to protect all that has been accomplished. The organization’s new initiatives include Global Voices, Southern Stories and Help Engage Youth, these programs are designed to amplify the voice of equality around the world.
Global superstar Kylie Minogue and Grammy Award winner Kacey Musgraves performed for the capacity crowd. Comedian Fortune Feimster hosted the event.
Special guests included: Naomi Watts (“Birdman”); Emmy Rossum (“Shameless”); Laverne Cox, Laura Prepon, Natasha Lyonne, Samira Wiley, Dascha Polanco, Selenis Leyva, Yael Stone, Taryn Manning, Emma Myles, Alysia Reiner (“Orange Is the New Black”); Robin Weigert, Stacie Passon (“Concussion”); Swoosie Kurtz (“Mike & Molly”); Lee Tergesen (“The Americans”); pop star Boy George; Raúl Castillo, Frankie J. Álvarez (“Looking”); Tamron Hall (“Today’s Take”); Candis Cayne (“Elementary”); country singer Chely Wright; out Grammy-winning country music songwriter Shane McAnally; New Orleans bounce performer Big Freedia; out NCAA basketball player Derrick Gordon; WWE Superstar Darren Young; Olympic speed skater Blake Skjellerup; MMA fighter Jessica Aguilar; transgender model Geena Rocero; GLAAD National Spokespersons Wilson Cruz and Omar Sharif Jr.; and GLAAD CEO and President Sarah Kate Ellis.
Additional awards were presented in Los Angeles on April 12 at the Beverly Hilton Hotel.
The 25th annual GLAAD Media Awards are presented nationally by Ketel One Vodka, Wells Fargo, and Hilton Worldwide. The New York City event is presented locally by Delta Airlines and Bud Light.
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