Amid the growing attacks against LGBTQ+ people – especially the trans community – currently underway in the US, this year SMOOTH Media Awards took on a particularly urgent tone in Beverly Hills on Thursday night, and one that brought it to Hollywood as well.
After Jennifer Coolidge and Jane Lynched kicked off the show, followed by host Margaret Cho celebrating the news of Donald Trump’s impeachment, A competition of its own showrunner Will Graham got real when he accepted the show’s award for outstanding new TV series.
Nominated against shows including Strange as Folk, Willow And The SandmanGraham told the audience at the Beverly Hilton: “It would be strange to accept this award without commenting on the fact that this show is one of the lucky ones and that so many of the shows that were nominated in this category have been canceled or quietly canceled, reflecting what is happening with strange stories in our society and in our classrooms.
“I hope that all of us on this stage and all of us in this room can say to our industry that we are the growing audience. We are no longer a niche, there are far too many of us,” he continued. “The days of being able to hold a Pride event and cancel our shows at the same time should be over. The time when you can sit on the sidelines while people debate about our right to exist is over. We are here, our lives matter, our joy matters, and we will remember who stood by us and who backed away at this pivotal moment in our history.”
In addition to sharing 15 awards TV shows, movies, musicians, books and journalists who reflected honest, accurate and inclusive portrayals of LGBTQ people and issues, the event also presented three special awards Bad rabbit, Christina Aguilera and Jeremy Pope.
Ricky Martin was on hand to present the Vanguard Award to Bad Bunny, praising that “the most streamed artist in history is loud and vocal towards trans women and the whole community” and made “the LGBTQ people dance, love to sing and live authentically. You can do that on are not more important at the moment.”
Speaking in Spanish, Bad Bunny thanked the “entire LGBTQ community for embracing me, for loving me the way they do, and for inspiring me too.”
“I always say I don’t do anything to expect an award, I don’t make music for an award, I don’t do videos, my appearance [for an award]. I do everything because of how I feel and that’s all I’ve done,” said the star. “I believe following my heart has led me to where I am, following my heart has brought me here and received this award surrounded by such beautiful people. I believe that if you have a good heart and give love, that’s what you get back, and that’s what I’ve wanted to do all along with my music, with what I represent, with my space, with my concerts, with my shows , with everything I do, that’s all I want to do. Give and receive love.”
Aguilera, who received the Advocate for Change Award from Club Q shooting survivor Michael Anderson, said she grew up surrounded by the LGBTQ community and “side by side, we taught and taught each other everything about life, from business to relationships to music, family, parties — I don’t know who does it better — and of course how to give a good blowjob, we know how to get dirty!” as the crowd erupted in laughter.
“If you have been a victim of violence, abuse or trauma, it is incredibly difficult and scary to find your voice and fight back. I grew up in a home of domestic violence and it was seeing my mother in a powerless position that first ignited the fire in me to stand up for all the people whose voices are not being heard,” she added please. “We must all raise our voices if we want to live in a world free from discrimination, hatred and violence. I’m so thankful tonight because for me it’s not about winning prizes or being honored – it’s nice, thank you – but my bigger goal is to use the platform I have to change lives for the better.
Pope closed the evening by accepting the Stephen F. Kolzak Award from The inspection costar Gabrielle Union, saying, “We know we’re being targeted, our trans brothers and sisters; our rights seem to be on the line and sometimes I find my heart struggling with the idea of ’How do I know this will work out?’ But it’s rooms like this that remind me of the power of this community, the power of love, how we will stand up for each other again and again.”
He continued, “I want you to know that we are beautiful, we are chosen for greatness, we are all chosen to use our time on this earth to plant seeds of prosperity and ideas for a brighter future for the next generation of warriors. ” The 34th Annual GLAAD Media Awards also featured special appearances from Fletcher and Orville Peck, the latter of whom paid tribute to the late Leslie Jordan. The show will be available to stream on Hulu starting April 12.