Out country star Chely Wright and 12-year-old LGBT advocate Marcel Neergaard took the stage on Saturday at the 25th Annual GLAAD Media Awards in New York to introduce Grammy Award-winning country music artist Kacey Musgraves, but they also spoke about the anti-bullying legislation Neergaard has advocated for and GLAAD's Southern Stories program. Check out the video below:
"You know, I did this all to show the bullies that they didn't win and they couldn't destroy me, but I could not have done any of that without GLAAD. GLAAD took my story national and they helped me get 50,000 signatures. They helped me create a huge change and no, we're not going to stop here. We're going to keep fighting together and we're going to make anti-bullying legislation pass in Tennessee. No, not just in Tennessee, in every state of America," Neergaard said.
Neergaard, a 2013 Spirit Day Ambassador, last year was able to get the educational lobbying organization StudentsFirst to support anti-bullying legislation for the first time in the organization's history. He has continued to speak out, writing frequently for the Huffington Post. He's currently urging Tennessee lawmakers to pass the Dignity for All Students Act, which would provide bullying protections for more students, including on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression.
Also at the event, GLAAD's President Sarah Kate Ellis received two standing ovations after being introduced by LGBT icon David Mixner. Sarah Kate shared her vision for GLAAD, underscoring how important it is to protect all that has been accomplished. The organizations new initiatives include Global Voices, Southern Stories and Help Engage Youth, these programs are designed to amplify the voice of equality around the world.
George Takei received the Vito Russo Award. Comedian Fortune Feimster hosted the event. Special guests included: Naomi Watts (Birdman); Emmy Rossum (Shameless); Laverne Cox, Laura Prepon, Natasha Lyonne, Samira Wiley, Dascha Polanco, Selenis Leyva, Yael Stone, Taryn Manning, Emma Myles, Alysia Reiner (Orange is the New Black); Robin Weigert, Stacie Passon (Concussion); Swoosie Kurtz (Mike & Molly); Lee Tergesen (The Americans); pop star Boy George; Raúl Castillo, Frankie J. Álvarez (Looking); Tamron Hall (Today's Take); Candis Cayne (Elementary); country singer Chely Wright; out Grammy-winning country music songwriter Shane McAnally; New Orleans bounce performer Big Freedia; out NCAA basketball player Derrick Gordon; WWE Superstar Darren Young; Olympic speed skater Blake Skjellerup; MMA fighter Jessica Aguilar; transgender model Geena Rocero; GLAAD National Spokespersons Wilson Cruz and Omar Sharif, Jr., and GLAAD CEO & President Sarah Kate Ellis.
The 25th Annual GLAAD Media Awards are presented nationally by Ketel One Vodka, Wells Fargo, and Hilton Worldwide. The New York City event is presented locally by Delta Airlines and Bud Light.