GLAAD honors Google, YouTube, Rick Welts, Kris Perry and Sandy Stier at #glaadgala in SF

GLAAD honored Google and YouTube with the inaugural Ric Weiland Award last night at the GLAAD Gala San Francisco: Game Changers at the Hilton San Francisco Union Square. The Ric Weiland Award honors innovators who advance LGBT equality through tech and new media. YouTube stars Tyler Oakley and Hannah Hart presented the award to Arjan Dijk, Vice President Marketing at Google, who accepted the award on behalf of Google and YouTube.

"Google is proud to be considered a Game Changer, especially in the memory of Ric Weiland and what his work represents," said Dijk "Google has a longstanding history of standing up for the LGBT community and we work hard to make sure that Google and YouTube are platforms that make information accessible to everyone. I am so proud and happy that YouTube and Google are global platforms that can help people find their way in life."

In 2008, Google spoke out against California's Proposition 8 and donated significant contributions to efforts to remove the ban. In 2010, Google announced that it would cover extra health coverage-related costs incurred by same-sex couples unable to legally wed. The following year, Google expanded its employee healthcare coverage to include transition-related care for its transgender employees. In 2012, the company launched 'Legalize Love,' an international effort to "promote safer conditions for gay and lesbian people inside and outside the office in countries with anti-gay laws on the books." That same year, Google unveiled a YouTube video showcasing employees speaking out in support of marriage equality in four states with marriage equality on the ballot. In 2013, YouTube unveiled its first-ever pride campaign, #ProudToLove, and changed its logo to be pride-themed for the first time in the company's history.

YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki tweeted:

Earlier this year, Google showed its support for LGBT Russians through a rainbow 'Google Doodle,' which debuted just hours before the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia. And in June, YouTube unveiled its #ProudToPlay campaign – a celebration of LGBT equality in sports. The campaign was featured on the YouTube and Google homepages and marked the second consecutive year that YouTube changed its logo for a pride campaign.

Rick Welts, President & COO of the Golden State Warriors received GLAAD's Davidson/Valentini Award for his work to promote LGBT inclusion in professional team sports. In 2011, Welts came out in a front-page interview with The New York Times, becoming the highest ranking executive in men's professional team sports to publicly acknowledge he is gay. Since coming out, he has been an outspoken advocate for LGBT inclusion in sports, especially the NBA. Welts is a leading voice in the national conversation about LGBT equality in sports, and his statements in support of openly gay athletes including Jason Collins and Michael Sam have appeared in outlets such as The Associated Press, USA Today, ESPN, Yahoo Sports, and NPR, among others. The award was presented by Golden State Warriors Assistant Coach Jarron Collins, twin brother of Jason Collins, the NBA's first openly gay active player.

"No one really could have imagined […] what's unfolded in our country over the past three years, even in the sports industry," said Welts during his acceptance. "Robbie Rogers, Jason Collins, Brittney Griner, Michael Sam, as each one came out and told their own compelling personal story, they added to the quality and the depth of the conversation that's unfolding in professional sports. Much has been accomplished, but much is left to be done, not just at a professional level but in our colleges and in our high schools, acceptance starts early."

GLAAD also recognized Kris Perry and Sandy Stier, lead plaintiffs in Hollingsworth v. Perry the landmark case that struck down California’s Proposition 8, with the Presidential Local Hero Award at the event. Peter Paige, the executive producer of The Fosters, presented the award to Perry and Stier.

"Almost five years ago we prepared for the first and hopefully last trial we will ever be a part of! That trial changed our lives forever; a trial where I shared my experience of growing up gay in California's conservative Central valley and how harmful feeling less than was to me," said Perry in her prepared remarks to accept the award. "I also testified about the development of all children and how transformational simply being accepted is in all of our lives. The power of choice, inclusion and acceptance is life changing, and critical to reaching one's full potential. I think we can all agree that everyone deserves a fair shot at a happy life."

GLAAD Gala San Francisco: Game Changers recognizes national and Bay Area leaders advancing LGBT equality through the media and also funds GLAAD's national advocacy work to rewrite the script for LGBT equality.

The event was hosted by Orange Is the New Black star Taryn Manning, and featured special performances by Glee star Alex Newell, Third Eye Blind frontman Stephan Jenkins, singer/songwriter Eli Lieb, and British pop singer Neon Hitch.

Manning and Lieb auctioned off a kiss to a lucky attendee of the gala.

Newell took over GLAAD's Instagram account for the evening.

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