Best. Gay. Week. Ever. (March 19, 2010)

Given that GLAAD (Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) awarded our own Flying Monkey for his article on effemiphobia, it’s not exactly a surprise that I’d be having warm fuzzy feelings about the group just now. 

The Flying Monkey mere moments before he flew away with his award.

But after having attended the ceremony in New York last Saturday night, I can honestly say I came away more impressed with the work GLAAD is doing, some of which I don’t think many folks are aware of.

While the ceremony definitely had its share of celebs getting awards, presenting awards and performing — Cynthia Nixon, Joy Behar, Alan Cumming, Sarah Paulson — I thought it especially great that GLAAD went out of their way to not only present some of the less glamorous awards like the Monkey’s, but to highlight some of the work they do with folks most of us don’t recognize and who are doing great things on our behalf. People like Elke Kennedy.

Elke Kennedy

Three years ago, Elke’s 20-year-old son Sean was murdered in Greenville, South Carolina, specifically because he was gay. After the murder, GLAAD offered their condolences to Sean’s family, but just as importantly, they also offered to work with Sean’s mom to help her effect change in the wake of her son’s murder. 

With GLAAD’s help, Elke underwent media training to learn how to become a public speaker in order to lobby for Hate Crimes Legislation both in South Carolina and at the national level. She’s appeared in all sorts of national press such as CNN and GLAAD has written press releases and offered other support to Elke as she established Sean’s Last Wish, which Elke created specifically to get Hates Crimes legislation enacted. 

Elke spoke at the GLAAD awards Saturday night and I was struck not just by how moving her story is, but by how shrewd of GLAAD it was to reach out to people such as her. I honestly can’t imagine a better person to go and speak to middle America about these issues than someone like Elke. 

Except maybe the most precocious 10-yeard-old boy ever. 

Will Phillips

GLAAD did the same outreach and education with Will Phillips from Arkansas who rose to national attention last year when he refused to say the Pledge of Allegiance at his school because gay people are denied the right to marry. GLAAD worked with the Phillips’ family on how best to bring their message to as many people as possible, and that included giving Will an award Saturday night.

Will’s speech was one of the night’s highlights and brought even more attention to our issues. Thanks to Will’s higher profile, he’s now part of the GetEqual foundation and I’ve little doubt, he’ll do great things. In fact, I say we just make him President of the World right now.

All of this goes hand in hand with GLAAD’s new logo which represents how the group works to "amplify" all of our voices in the fight for equality. It’s a pretty clever visual representation of that idea. I don’t know about you, but I certainly don’t trust the traditional media to cover these stories, and cover them well, without someone gay involved somewhere along the line.

Next page! Hanging out with the beautiful people!

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