Had a terrific time at last night's GLAAD Media Awards at the Marriott Marquis in Times Square, where Ricky Martin , Russell Simmons, "True Blood," "30 Rock" and Essence.com took home top honors. (Full list of winners HERE.)
I couldn't make the red carpet -- BoyCulture has the blow-by-blow HERE -- but the show was light and fun, with much credit to host Andy Cohen, who brought the same "can't believe I'm getting paid to do this" charm and humor he has for his day job at Bravo to his award-show-hosting duties.
Right out of the gate, he won the audience over -- as if he needed to any more than he already has -- by bringing out surprise guest Tina Fey, who immediately had the audience in stitches with her trademark wit while answering questions in Andy's impromptu quiz he dubbed "Fey on Gay," in which she had to give her thoughts on LGBT television characters of the last 25 years. It was during this multiple-choice odyssey we learned why Fey thinks lesbians are such good talk-show hosts (because they are "very good at pretending to be interested in the boring stories straight people tell"; which classic gay character she'd like for a TV-next-door-neighbor (Jack McFarland, because Sean Hayes "is the exact mix of adorable, Irish and gay that confused me my entire high school career"); which butch TV characters probably got to first base at least once (Granny and Jane Hathaway from "The Beverly Hillbillies," "drinking moonshine, both closing their eyes picturing Elly May ... making it work") and which TV woman she'd visit the "lady pond" for if she were going to (Oprah is her "stock answer" -- "Really, I've been asked this in the past -- "I would say, maybe, Lynda Carter as Wonder Woman.").
Later Fey -- who wanted to know how many people in the audience were thinking she needs to work on her triceps -- accepted the award for Outstanding Individual Episode (in a series without a regular LGBT character) for the "30 Rock" episode "Klaus & Greta," in which Liz Lemon's brings a cousin to New York City after outing him to the family -- and he goes wild.
From there, Russell Simmons gave a moving acceptance speech for his Excellence in Media award, invoking the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., who said civil rights couldn't be achieved for some if they are not achieved for all. Janice Langbehn then told the heart-wrenching story of being denied visitation at a Florida hospital while her longtime partner, Lisa Pond, laid dying after becoming fatally ill on a cruise vacation. She thanked GLAAD for training her to be media-ready so that her story would be heard, and though her lawsuit was dismissed, President Obama has since changed hospital visitation policies for all same-sex couples, and he even called Langbehn to apologize on behalf of the United States. (These stories are always a good segue into asking for donations, but this year's seemed a tad bit more awkward than usual.)
Then came the night's big honoree, Ricky Martin, who received the Vito Russo Award for his coming-out episode of Oprah. I was told by GLAAD reps that Ricky never comes with a prepared statement, and at first, that was obvious. He looked excited -- and said thank you. But then he really drove home why we were all really there by relaying to the audience how GLAAD had come to his aid after he started getting slammed back home, something I had not even heard about. "GLAAD has helped me so much. A couple of months ago, I was being attacked by someone in the media in Puerto Rico, and I called GLAAD and I said 'What do you do? Because I'm new at this, I really don't know what to do.' And they said, 'Don't worry, we'll take care of it.' And they hopped on a plane and they went to Puerto Rico and they did what needed to be done. And today, Puerto Rican television is one step closer to being free from hate, thanks to GLAAD." (Way to go, Jarett from the Barrios!)
When he continued, that's when his transformation became most clear: "I just want to be free. I can say today I'm free. And for that I definitely need to thank my parents for being so supportive, my mother and my dad for their unconditional love, and my friends, my family, my fans. And my partner in crime and my boyfriend, Carlos." (Carlos? We all looked around -- not sure if he had finally mentioned his boyfriend by name, something he wouldn't even do on his award-winning episode of Oprah. Now THIS is what GLAAD is all about.)
The end of the night saw Andy Cohen
From there, I ran into Matt and his partner, Jose, in the after-party, where we kept our eyes open for boldfaced names. After running into Joe Jervis -- aka Joe My God -- who won GLAAD's first-ever best blog category, we saw MSNBC's Lawrence O'Donnell, Wilson Cruz, a bunch of RuPaul's Drag Race contestants -- at least I hope that's who they were -- as well as some friends and nice blog readers.
The party was not nearly as crowded as last year's -- the Black Party and Janet Jackson were competing for gays' attention Saturday night -- but it ended up having a more intimate feeling, which set the mood for everyone to be more willing to meet new people.
To borrow an overused joke from the night, I'm glad I went.
In April, GLAAD will honor other winners, including Kristin Chenoweth, at a ceremony in Los Angeles, and an event in San Francisco in May.