Russell Simmons will present the GLAAD Media Award for “Outstanding Film – Limited Release” at the 23rd Annual GLAAD Media Awards in New York. Simmons, a longtime advocate for equality, has been vocal of his support of the LGBT community. He has consistently spoken out to hip-hop community and the African-American community at large. Gun Hill Road and Pariah are also among the nominated films at this year's awards. Along with Simmons, Adepero Oduye and Kim Wayans of Pariah will also be in attendance.
In a 2006 interview for The Advocate Newsmagazine on Logo, Simmons talked about why it's important to support all people, and addressed the possible discomfort within the hip-hop community to discuss homophobia.
Back in April 2009, the music and fashion mogul came out in support of marriage equality in a letter to New York Gov. David Paterson. Simmons wrote, “As your friend and supporter, we know you can do much more, if you forget about what the poll numbers say and let your heart lead. You have recently done this in showing support for the legalization of gay marriage. History will show you are right and we will support you on this issue.”
Later that year, Simmons reiterated his support for the LGBT community on CNN's The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer.
In the Huffington Post's “It Is Not A Matter of If, But Only A Matter of When” he wrote:
In my heart, I know that marriage equality for every human being isn't a question of if, but only a matter of when. I ask those who feel that giving freedom to others somehow binds you, to please take a good look at what you are standing behind. It is only through opening your hearts will you be able to see that by promoting freedom for all, you are unchaining yourself. I guess I'm an optimist. I have faith in people and our government ultimately to do the right thing.
Simmons went on to pose for the No H8 campaign, a photo project that features celebrities and civilians who oppose California’s ban on marriage for same-sex couples, known as Proposition 8.
And these are just a few of his contributions as an ally.
Last year, Simmons received the well-deserved Excellence in Media Award in recognition of his philanthropic efforts and strong support of LGBT equality. The Excellence in Media Award is presented to media professionals who, through their work, have increased the visibility and understanding of the LGBT community. “The idea for fair treatment for everyone is my mantra,” he said at GLAAD’s 2011 Media Awards show.
“That’s what promotes my own happiness is by giving that same happiness to others, so it just makes perfect sense for me to stand up for other people.”
There is still a need and continued effort to build relationships with more allies like Simmons who will join GLAAD in the movement for equality. GLAAD commends Russell Simmons for his continued support and shining example.