Billy Porter calls for united front to 'protect our inalienable rights' at GLAAD Media Awards

(Photo by Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for GLAAD)Rosie O’Donnell presented the Vito Russo Award to Tony and Grammy Award-winning performer Billy Porter at the 28th Annual GLAAD Media Awards in New York City on May 6.

In his acceptance speech, Porter called attention to the Presidential administration’s attack on “all of us,” and urged all communities to resist: “From slavery to emancipation, to the 13th Amendment, to Jim Crow to the Civil Rights Movement, from Stonewall to AIDS, to Marriage Equality – remember whose shoulders we stand on.”

“Let’s use the historical strides we’ve made as a nation to empower us as warriors on this battlefield for equality," Porter added. "It’s time to protect our inalienable rights."

The Vito Russo Award is presented to an openly LGBTQ media professional who has made a significant difference in promoting equality and acceptance. The Award is named for Vito Russo, a founder of GLAAD and celebrated ACT UP activist, who pushed open the door for news and entertainment industries to include LGBTQ performers and stories. Previous Vito Russo honorees include Anderson Cooper, Ricky Martin, George Takei, Cynthia Nixon, Rosie O’Donnell, RuPaul, Tom Ford, Thomas Roberts, Suze Orman, and Alan Cumming among others.

Billy Porter is a Tony and Grammy Award-winning singer, actor, playwright and director. Most recently, he released the album Billy Porter Presents: The Soul of Richard Rodgers, which features soulful takes on classic Richard Rodgers songs alongside spoken messages about acceptance. He is an outspoken advocate for racial justice and LGBTQ issues who has advanced LGBTQ stories on and off the stage. Porter received the Tony Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical for his groundbreaking performance as drag artist Lola in the hit musical Kinky Boots. He also created theatre productions While Yet I Live and the GLAAD Media Award-nominated Ghetto Superstar (The Man That I Am), both about his life growing up as black, gay, Christian man in Pittsburgh, PAPorter pushed for marriage equality as a Board Member of the Empire State Pride Agenda and consistently demonstrates his commitment to LGBTQ youth by working with organizations including the Ali Forney Center for LGBTQ homeless youth in New York City. Earlier this year, Porter shared his wedding to longtime partner Adam Smith with the world, remarking, “It’s still important to show the world what our love looks like.”

“Billy Porter is a trailblazer who has helped move inclusion forward for marginalized communities in theatre and music communities,” said Sarah Kate Ellis, President & CEO of GLAAD, in a previous statement announcing the honor. “Whether advancing acceptance on the stage or off, he sends unabashed messages of pride to LGBTQ youth and out performers around the world.”

The Los Angeles GLAAD Media Awards were held April 1 at the Beverly Hilton. The 28th Annual GLAAD Media Awards are presented by Delta Airlines, Hilton, Ketel One Vodka, Liberty Mutual Insurance, and Wells Fargo.

The GLAAD Media Awards recognize and honor media for their fair, accurate and inclusive representations of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) community and the issues that affect their lives.  They also fund GLAAD's work to amplify stories from the LGBTQ community that build support for equality and acceptance.