GLAAD, the world’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) media advocacy organization, announced recipients for the final 18 of this year’s 33 categories of the 34th Annual GLAAD Media Awards in New York City.

Maren Morris accepted GLAAD’s Excellence in Media Award, introduced by Cynthia Lee Fontaine and Alyssa Edwards, making Morris the first country music artist to receive that honor. Jonathan Van Ness accepted GLAAD’s Vito Russo Award, presented by ALOK, making Van Ness the first nonbinary recipient to receive that honor.

The New York ceremony for the 34th Annual GLAAD Media Awards was hosted by producer, Critics Choice-nominated actor and GLAAD Award winner, Harvey Guillén. The evening opened with a special performance by multi-platinum selling singer/songwriter and Tony Award-winning Broadway icon, Idina Menzel, with the global debut of her new hit, Move. The pop disco track is fresh off her upcoming dance project, Drama Queen, releasing August 18.

Recognizing the rise in anti-LGBTQ violence and rhetoric across the country, including over 500 anti-LGBTQ bills introduced so far in 2023, GLAAD welcomed transgender Montana State Representative Zooey Zephyr, as well as queer and nonbinary Oklahoma State Representative Mauree Turner, to spotlight the critical role we all have in representing our communities with the power of the vote. Both representatives were targeted and silenced in recent weeks, censured by the state legislatures they both serve in. When bigoted politicians turn to disgusting tactics to erase queer voices, GLAAD turns up the volume on exposing hate and amplifying what accurate and fair queer visibility look, sounds and feels like.

Rep. Zooey Zephyr:
“Trans people have always been here and we always will be. And not just our lives, but our resilience, our joy, and our love is forever. You cannot legislate trans people out of existence any more than you canlegislate away joy and love. If we root ourselves in that love, and root ourselves in community, we are sure to win. We already are.”

Rep. Mauree Turner:
“I am the culmination of the things bigots hate the most: a Queer Black non-binary Muslim elected official. What they say is: you don’t get access to the same Oklahoma as the rest of us because I don’t like you. And what I say is: leave your homegrown bigotry at home. I was lucky to have a mother who said I see you, I will always advocate for you. But even with that support I didn’t think I was going to make it through middle school, let alone high school. Now it’s the same bullies with different tactics. But I did not give up when I was 12 or 15, and I’m not going to give up now. I want trans youth, trans youth of color, and all youth to hear this: I know how heavy and scary it is right now. I’ve been there.”

Presented by Cynthia Lee Fontaine and Alyssa Edwards, Maren Morris accepted GLAAD’s Excellence in Media Award, saying in part:

“I want my fellow country music artists to understand that inclusivity is not only the right thing, but it’s also good for business. You open up yourself and your sound to a much larger audience, even if you lose some along the way. The crowds at my shows are a sea of diversity, from race, identity to age. It is a loving, safe space for my band, crew, venue staff and most notably, my fans. This community stood up for me and made me feel safe when I felt alone and I’ll never be able to repay them, but I hope I get spend the rest of my life and career settling up.”

Presented by ALOK, Jonathan Van Ness accepted GLAAD’s Vito Russo Award, saying in part:

“Living in Texas, I am not willing to sit on the sidelines as these grown bullies attempt to erase our community. Luckily I grew up with strong women who taught me to stand up for what’s right. One of the ways I do that is to frequently join my friends from Equality Texas and GLAAD in Austin. I want everyone to find their healing. I know people love and accept you more once you love and accept yourself. I also know that we need to proudly say we are pro queer pro trans pro black pro-abortion rights, pro-immigration, we are PRO HUMAN! What is happening now should be a jolting wakeup call.”

GLAAD’s President & CEO Sarah Kate Ellis made keynote remarks, saying in part:

“We want an America where AR-15 assault rifles do not have more rights than people of color, women, and LGBTQ Americans. So when they go low, we get LOUD. That is GLAAD’s superpower…We are not going to let anyone tell a story that villainizes us, when the truth is that everyone deserves to live happily ever after. So raise your voice. Take action with GLAAD. Get loud and stay proud.”

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