Iconic talk show host Ellen DeGeneres will kick off the 23rd GLAAD Media Awards in Los Angeles on Saturday, April 21.
Since coming out in 1997, Ellen has been a champion for equality both on and off the screen, earning a total of eight GLAAD Media award nominations (winning two) and the Stephen F. Kolzak Award, which is presented to an out LGBT media professional who has made a significant difference in promoting equality.
In 1998, Ellen DeGeneres stood with actors Eric McCormack and Debra Messing of Will & Grace as they won the award for Outstanding Comedy Series for its inaugural season. The cast thanked Ellen from the stage for making it possible for them to launch a sitcom with a gay lead character.
Chaz Bono, who is this year’s Stephen F. Kolzak Award honoree, was GLAAD’s Entertainment Media Director at the time said: "After months of speculation, ABC, Disney and the producers of Ellen have taken a decisive stand for programming that reflects the true America, which includes lesbians and gay men. The public has voiced their desire to see Ellen Morgan come out, and now we can finally celebrate this truly groundbreaking event."
From interviewing marriage equality advocate and author Zach Wahls, son of two moms, and teenager Katy Butler, who started an action on change.org to lower the MPAA rating of the documentary Bully from ‘R’ to ‘PG-13’ to Constance McMillen, a student from Mississippi whose high school cancelled prom rather than letting her attend with her girlfriend, and Spirit Day, Ellen has continued to raise visibility around LGBT stories and people.
Earlier this year, Ellen became the target of a campaign by the anti-gay group One Million Moms.com, a project of the American Family Association – an organization designated as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) – in which One Million Moms asked retailer JC Penney to fire Ellen as a spokesperson, simply because she is gay. GLAAD launched the #StandUpforEllen campaign in support of her, and after nearly 50,000 people joined GLAAD in support of Ellen and JC Penney’s commercials, JC Penney stood by Ellen.
Ellen DeGeneres has done incomparable work to change the hearts and minds of her ever-growing audience and has helped build support for all LGBT Americans. GLAAD is honored to have such a beloved personality open the show tomorrow. For those unable to attend, we will be posting footage of her kicking off Saturday night’s event on Sunday.