Facebook, first social media company honored at #glaadawards, shares touching stories of LGBT users

The LGBT community really likes Facebook!

This Saturday at the 23rd Annual GLAAD Media Awards in San Francisco, Facebook received a Special Recognition Award for its work to create a welcoming space for LGBT people. Facebook became the first social media company to receive a GLAAD Media Award.

Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg sent a video message stating "For two decades, GLAAD has recognized those who promote understanding, increase acceptance and advance equality. This is incredibly important and I couldn't be more pleased that Facebook is among those being honored by GLAAD this year. I'm thankful that GLAAD has recognized our commitment to helping young people make safe, smart and responsible choices online and offline. We're committed to helping people express who they really are."

Facebook's Andrew Noyes and Sara Sperling, accepted the award on behalf of Facebook. Sperling told the crowd about two gay women from the United Arab Emirates who found each other on Facebook. When their families found out they had few options. Sperling said: "One was not be together, one was stay together and risk getting beaten or killed." They left their country and moved to Oakland where today, the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) is working on their asylum case. You can hear more about their story in the video below. Binary Data 1tlLDh9JB-8

High school student Brittany McMillan presented the award to Facebook. McMillan launched the idea for Spirit Day in 2010 and began working with GLAAD on the annual event which inspires millions of participants to wear purple or change their Facebook photo to purple in support of LGBT youth and to stand up against bullying. Facebook was first involved in 2010 when a Spirit Day event page on Facebook was flooded with anti-gay comments and violent images, and the company worked with GLAAD to come up with a solution to the problem.

Brittany said: "GLAAD found Spirit Day on Facebook, amplified my voice, and now we are changing the world. Facebook is a huge part of my life and my generation's life, and I definitely wouldn't be standing up here without it…They also suggest that LGBT teens stick up for others, think twice before posting, reach out whenever they feel overwhelmed, and remember that they are not alone in their struggle."

Andrew and Sara were instrumental in the creation of several anti-bullying initiatives, including launching the Stop Bullying: Speak Up app and creating the Network of Support, which serves in a consultative capacity to help the company effectively address issues faced by the LGBT community.