12 Greatest Moments From The History Of The GLAAD Media Awards

"There is no gay agenda—it's a human agenda."

In honor of the 28th Annual GLAAD Media Awards, airing tonight on Logo, we’ve compiled some of the most memorable moments in the ceremony’s history.

  1. Jennifer Lawrence “outs” Robert De Niro (2016)

    NEW YORK, NY - MAY 14: Robert De Niro (L) and Jennifer Lawrence speak onstage during the 27th Annual GLAAD Media Awards at Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York on May 14, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for GLAAD)
    Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for GLAAD

    “GLAAD and Bob have a lot in common. They’re both gay,” Lawrence told the audience at last year’s ceremony when she introduced De Niro. “Just kidding. I was told by five people to cut that and I was like, ‘Hell no.’”

    De Niro was on hand to accept the Excellence in Media Award for his history of LGBT advocacy and for producing the 2014 HBO documentary about his gay father, Remembering the Artist: Robert De Niro.

  2. Phil Donahue accepts the first award (1990)

    Phil Donahue and Marlo Thomas during 17th Annual Daytime Emmy Awards at Marriott Marquis Hotel in New York City, New York, United States. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)
    Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage

    Donahue received the Media Person of the Year Award at GLAAD’s inaugural ceremony for depicting diverse and accurate representations of the LGBT community on his popular talk show. He was joined on stage by GLAAD founder Vito Russo, who died just months later.

    In 2009, Donahue received a Special Recognition Award from GLAAD for his ongoing activism, and addressed the “warp speed” advancement gay rights had made.

    “Twenty years ago, when I proudly accepted the first GLAAD Media Award. it was a very small crowd. There are more photographers here tonight than there were people then. Now … the majority of the people in the nation agree with us. Our job now is to summon these people to stand up and say so out loud. To tell them to join us.”

  3. CBS News’ Josh Elliott opens up about his gay dad (2012)

    Elliott was honored for his work on the ABC News segment “Battle Against Bullying,” about the death of gay teen Jamey Rodemeyer, but it was his personal story about his father’s coming out that brought the room to its feet.

    “When I was 13 my father came out… I got to seem him as a man in full and a man fulfilled,” said Elliott. “I took from him his love of storytelling… the importance of being an advocate for those who need it. And I took from him, most importantly, what it means to be a man.”

  4. Ricky Martin accepts the Vito Russo Award (2011)  

      One year after the Latin pop star came out as gay, he was honored with the Vito Russo Award for work promoting visiblity and equality, especially for Latino youth and their parents.

    After recalling how GLAAD helped him deal with a homophobic reporter in Puerto Rico, the “Vida Loca” singer declared, “I can say, today, ’I’m free.'”

  5. Laverne Cox’s mom surprises her onstage (2014)

    25th Annual GLAAD Media Awards - Dinner and Show
    Lester Cohen/Getty Images for GLAAD

    In 2014, the Orange is the New Black star received the Stephen F. Kolzak Award for her work promoting equality. Cox was about to walk offstage when Ellen Page gave her one last surprise—her mom, carrying a bouquet of flowers.


  6. Jennifer Tyrrell gets emotional talking about being fired from the Boy Scouts (2012)  

    Tyrrell, a lesbian Den Mother from Ohio, was asked to resign as a Boy Scout leader troop leader when they learned of her orientation. GLAAD began its expansion into the larger cultural conversation by backing her petition for reinstatement.

    “I’ve never even been on a plane before,” Tyrrell told the audience. “But I got on one yesterday because we all agreed it’s time to stand up.”

    The Scouts officially lifted its ban on gay adult leaders last year.

  7. Betty White flirts up a storm (2013)  

    Though she was standing on stage with Magic Mike hunk Alex Pettyfer, the TV icon locked lips with former Mary Tyler Moore Show co-star Cloris Leachman. Cloris went in for a full on smooch, but Betty declared “I’m open-minded but not ridiculous.”

    She also made it clear she was a staunch supporter of marriage equality, saying “I’ve been around the block and seen a lot of things—done one or two of them. If two people in love want to get married, let ’em get married!”

  8. Boy George introduces Kylie Minogue (2014)  

      The Culture Club frontman introduced Minogue, declaring “Gay people absolutely LOVE her,” (as if we didn’t already know that).

    The “Love at First Sight” singer recounted how she’s always been an ally—”for me, with the LGBT community, there was never a question… of questions”— and then sang an a cappella version of “Can’t Get You Out of My Head,” on a table to encourage donations.

    Do we even need to tell you the whole room sang along?

  9. Dolly Parton “comes out” (2011)  

      The queen of country music was a surprise guest at the 2011 ceremony, where she presented Showtime president Robert Greenblatt with an award—and jokingly told the audience, “I guess you could say that I’m coming out tonight!”

    Cute, Dolly.

  10. Madonna wears Boy Scout drag (2013)  

      The “Hung Up” singer coming out dressed as a Scout is one of the most iconic moments in GLAAD Awards history.

    After recounting how she thought she should be allowed to be a scout—”I know how to pitch a tent!”—Madge shared a kiss with Anderson Cooper, and presented him with the Vito Russo Award.     Cooper was modest in his remarks, saying others had done so much more than he had for LGBT rights. But he added he was fortunate to be a part of the same community as Russo, Larry Kramer and others: “I’ve had so many blessings in my life, and being gay is certainly one of the greatest.”

  11. Cher surprises Chaz Bono (2012)  

      The ultimate gay icon, Cher, surprised her son at the 2012 ceremony, presenting him with Stephen F. Kolzak Award.

    The ever-direct star said she was nervous about honoring Chaz at the awards, “because my pronouns jump all over the f*cking place.” Speaking from the heart, she admitting it took her time to accept his being trans, and declared “Chaz has the most courage of anyone I know.”

  12. Elizabeth Taylor reminds us about the gay agenda (2000)  

    The legendary actress gave a rousing speech about her frustration with governmental inaction during the height of the AIDS crisis and her ongoing support of the LGBT community.

    Dame Elizabeth said that she knew she had to get involved in activism when, in the 1980s, when gays stopped being human beings “and started becoming ’the enemy.'” “There is no gay agenda—it’s a human agenda.” she declared to rousing applause. “All of us should be treated the same and GLAAD knows that.”

    She also made an early pitch for marriage equality. “People against gay marriages say marriage should only be between a man and a woman. God, I of all people know that doesn’t always work out.”

    Brava, lady.

The 28th Annual GLAAD Media Awards air Thursday, April 6, at 10/9c on Logo.

Watch Logo correspondent Raymond Braun on the red carpet at this year’s GLAAD Media Awards in the video below.

I write about drag queens. Dolly Parton once ruffled my hair and said I was "just the cutest thing ever."