First Published: May 2003
       This is an OutUK Archive Item and so some of the links and information may be out of date.
British director Stephen Daldry's film The Hours, the US version of Channel 4's Queer As Folk, and singer Christina Aguilera have all been honoured in this year's Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation Annual Media Awards at a glitzy ceremony in Hollywood on Saturday (April 26th), reports OutUK correspondent Rex Wockner. The awards are given for positive portrayals of gay, lesbian and bisexual people in the media and entertainment fields.
Held at the majestic Kodak Theatre on Hollywood Boulevard, home of the Oscars, the ceremony honoured Aguilera with a special award for the bold gay and transgender images in her Beautiful video. Todd Haynes was rewarded for his film Far From Heaven and The Hours received the Outstanding Film award for a mainstream release. Eric McCormack was recognized for his five years of playing Will on NBC's top-rated sitcom Will & Grace.

Aguilera's video includes two gay men making out on a public bench oblivious to the stares of passers-by, as well as former Robert Mapplethorpe model Robert Sherman slowly transforming himself into a woman, finally smiling at his feminine image in the mirror.

GLAAD Executive Director Joan Garry said the video "conveys a powerful message about self-respect and empowerment."

"At a time when many in the music industry avoid lesbian and gay themes altogether, or even worse, use defamatory images to appear edgy, Christina's decision to feature gay and transgender people in her video is a strong statement of inclusion, affirmation and acceptance," Garry said.

Aguilera performed an acappella version of Beautiful that brought the house down.
Photo by Rex Wockner.
"It is so important that in my music I do convey positive images, and this song is definitely a universal message that everybody can, I think, relate to," she said. "Anyone that's been discriminated against or unaccepted, unappreciated or disrespected because of who you are -- your colour, your sexual preference, whatever that may be. I wanted really ... to support the gay community. Still in 2003, we even have to give awards because it is so unaccepted still today in society. So I wanted to show my love and support to all of you."

In an exclusive interview, US Queer As Folk's Peter Paige, who plays Emmett Honeycutt, talked about the programme's impact on gay America.

"I know Queer As Folk has made a difference to the gay cause," Paige said.

"I see it literally every single day. I see in the faces of gay people who come up to me on the street. I see it in the faces of straight people who stop me on the street. Which now -- early in the show it was all gay people who stopped me. Then very quickly it became straight women.

Queer As Folk's Peter Paige at the GLAAD Awards.
Photo by Bob Gordon/Wockner News
"And now it's straight men, all the time -- often subtly, often under their breath, but I don't get on an airplane without a straight guy saying to me, 'You know, my wife and I love the show.' And when asked why, they all say the same thing, 'Oh, we just like the stories.' If you had told me 20 years ago that I would be a part of that, that I would be a part of the show that made straight people not even able to see the division anymore, I'd have told you you were crazy."

Actor Eric McCormack thanked GLAAD for its support of Will & Grace over the years.

"Television by its very nature aims to please all the people all the time," he said. "As a straight actor playing a gay role on a network sitcom, I faced the very real possibility that I would please none of the people none of the time -- by being too gay for straight America and not gay enough for gay America. And I'd be trapped in some gay/straight limbo like Simon Cowell or Ryan Seacrest. Fortunately I needn't have worried. The straight audience came around pretty quickly but it was this community that was with us from the very beginning. In fact it was GLAAD that during the shooting of the pilot sent a telegram saying, 'We're behind you all the way' and, being GLAAD, I know they meant that literally."

McCormack's award was presented by Will & Grace's Sean Hayes, who plays Jack. Hayes took the audience on a rollercoaster ride, coming this-close to coming out, then not doing it. Many reporters and gay fans have been irritated by Hayes' refusal to say if he's gay, straight or something in between.

"I feel good here," Hayes said. "I feel comfortable. I look around and I see kind, accepting faces -- granted most of those faces don't move above the eyebrows, but they seem to have kind and accepting potential. I've had three martinis with the new low-carb vodka, I'm feeling the love, and I think I need to do something, I think it's time to share something about myself, something that I've needed to share with you for a while now but wasn't quite prepared to do so in the past. I needed time, I needed to feel safe, I needed it to come from me and no one else. I have to confess, I'm a little nervous about it, but I can't imagine a better place to say this. So, ladies and gentleman, members of the media, colleagues and friends: I'm being selfish again! I'm being selfish again! Tonight is about Eric McCormack and his heterosexuality. I apologize."

Film-maker Todd Haynes said Far From Heaven changed his career.

"I've always considered myself someone working very much in the margins, very much outside of the mainstream, free to really experiment with narrative, with depictions of homosexuality and struggle and a lot of other themes as well," he said.

"And not always committed to positive representations necessarily, but trying to get really down deep into the things that kind of unify all of us. Something happened with Far From Heaven, I think, where the film entered a different arena for me -- this has been kind of a dizzying year, an amazing year of my career.

"I feel very proud to be a part of the representation of gay struggle in film," Haynes said. "It'll be something I'll continue to do and we'll just keep fighting." © WNS



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