Rosie O’Donnell surprises ‘Southwest of Salem’ women at GLAAD Media Awards in NYC

On Saturday, CNN anchor Don Lemon presented the Outstanding Documentary award to Investigation Discovery's Southwest of Salem: The Story of the San Antonio Four  at the 28th Annual GLAAD Media Awards in New York City. Elizabeth Ramirez accepted the award on the documentary's behalf, and was joined onstage by director Deborah Esquenazi, producer Sam Tabet, and the rest of the 'San Antonio Four,' Kristie Mayhugh, Cassandra Rivera, and Anna Vasquez.

Ramirez movingly expressed that the San Antonio Four's story is a "cautionary tale of what happens when homophobia and misogyny and the misuse of science are present in our courts." Ramirez pointed to the documentary as a "testament to the power of filmmaking that shedding light on injustices can create real change."

The four also had the opportunity to celebrate their award with Rosie O'Donnell, who had presented Billy Porter with an award earlier that night. One of their biggest supporters, O'Donnell could not pass up the chance to give a surprise backstage visit to the brave women whose story moved the entire crowd.

Southwest of Salem: The Story of San Antonio Four tells the heart-rending story of four Latina lesbians and their fight for exoneration after spending nearly 15 years in prison for wrongful conviction of sexual assault. The documentary highlights the homophobia permeating both the criminal justice system and society at large, which tilted the scales against the San Antonio Four.

 In November 2016, the women were exonerated by Texas' highest criminal court, following the documentary's film festival circuit tour and Investigation Discovery premiere -- to record ratings for the network -- just one month before.

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.