GLAAD, the nation’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) media advocacy organization, honored Kerry Washington, Roland Emmerich, and the best in film and television at the 26th Annual GLAAD Media Awards at the Beverly Hilton in Los Angeles.

Zoe Saldana, Channing Tatum, Ellen DeGeneres, Portia de Rossi, Shonda Rhimes, Patricia Arquette, and Viola Davis were among the special guests. The 26th Annual GLAAD Media Awards are presented by Delta Air Lines, Hilton, Ketel One Vodka, and Wells Fargo; and Official Presenting Partners Amazon and Bud Light.

The GLAAD Media Awards recognize and honor media for their fair, accurate and inclusive representations of the LGBT community and the issues that affect their lives. The GLAAD Media Awards also fund GLAAD’s work to amplify stories from the LGBT community and issues that build support for acceptance.

At the ceremony, Ellen DeGeneres presented Kerry Washington with GLAAD’s Vanguard Award, which is presented to media professionals who, through their work, have increased the visibility and understanding of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.

In an acceptance speech that had the audience on their feet, Washington said, “I don’t decide to play the characters I play as a political choice. Yet the characters I play often do become political statements. Because having your story told as a woman, as a person of color, as a lesbian, as a trans person, or as any member of any disenfranchised community, is sadly often still a radical idea. There is so much power in storytelling, and there is enormous power in inclusive storytelling, in inclusive representations. That is why the work of GLAAD is so important. We need more LGBT representation in the media. We need more LGBT characters and more LGBT storytelling. We need more diverse LGBT representation. And by that, I mean lots of different kinds of LGBT people living all different kinds of lives. And this is big — we need more employment of LGBT people in front of and behind the camera.” Washington continued, “We can’t say that we believe in each other’s fundamental humanity, and then turn a blind eye to the reality of each other’s existence, and the truth of each other’s hearts. We must be allies and we must be allies in this business, because to be represented is to be humanized, and as long as anyone anywhere is being made to feel less human, our very definition of humanity is at stake, and we are all vulnerable. We must see each other, all of us. And we must see ourselves, all of us. And we have to continue to be bold and break new ground until that is just how it is, until we are no longer ‘firsts’ and ‘exceptions’ and ‘rare’ and ‘unique.’ In the real world, being an ‘other’ is the norm. In the real world, the only norm is uniqueness, and our media must reflect that. Thank you, GLAAD, for fighting the good fight.”

Also at the event, Channing Tatum presented out director Roland Emmerich with the Stephen F. Kolzak Award. In accepting the award Emmerich said, “I’m very honored and thankful to be here tonight to accept the Stephen F. Kolzak Award from GLAAD. GLAAD does so much to change our society by sharing stories about LGBT people, and to make everyone understand the value of our stories. So what is my story? I’m a director, I’m German, and I’m gay.”

Zoe Saldana presented the award for Outstanding Film – Wide Release to The Imitation Game. Academy Award-winning screenwriter Graham Moore and producer Ido Ostrowsky accepted the award on behalf of the film, and producer Harvey Weinstein recorded a video acceptance urging attendees in the ballroom to sign a petition calling on the British government to pardon the other 49,000 people convicted under the same unjust law as Alan Turing.

Laura Jane Grace, front woman for the punk band Against Me! and this year’s GLAAD Media Award recipient for Outstanding Music Artist, co-presented with Andrew Rannells the award for Outstanding Comedy Series to Amazon’s Transparent. Accepting for Transparent were show creator Jill Soloway, co-producer Rhys Ernst, and stars Amy Landecker, Jay Duplass, Alexandra Billings, Kiersey Clemons, Michaela Watkins, Alison Sudol, Clementine Creevy, and Brett Parasol.

Murray Bartlett and Daniel Franzese from HBO’s Looking presented the award for Outstanding Drama Series to ABC’s How to Get Away with Murder. Show creator Peter Nowalk, executive producer Shonda Rhimes, and cast members Viola Davis, Jack Falahee, Matt McGorry, and Aja Naomi King accepted on behalf of the show.

On Saturday night, FOX’s Glee also received a Special Recognition Award, following the series finale. For six seasons, Glee has consistently introduced groundbreaking LGBT characters and storylines, including a recent episode that featured a 200-person transgender choir. Joe Earley, Chief Operating Officer at Fox Television Group, accepted the award on behalf of the show. GLAAD previously announced that it was acknowledging BioWare’s hit video game Dragon Age: Inquisition and the song “Era Diferente” by the legendary Mexican band Los Tigres del Norte with Special Recognition Awards.

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