The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) has honoured South African actress Charlize Theron and singer Melissa Etheridge at the 17th Annual GLAAD Media Awards in Los Angeles.

Teri Hatcher, Nicolette Sheridan, Jessica Alba, Laura Dern, Eric McCormack, Debra Messing, Megan Mullally, Sean Hayes, and Patricia, Rosanna and Alexis Arquette were among the dozens of celebrities who attended the event.

At the ceremony held at the Kodak Theatre, openly lesbian actress Jillian Armenante presented Charlize Theron with GLAAD’s Vanguard Award, honouring media professionals who, through their work, have increased the visibility and understanding of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. Theron and Armenante became friends while filming North Country together.

“Two years ago, I stood here and won my Oscar for Monster. Thank you for bringing me back here and letting me stand in this exact spot tonight to receive this wonderful award,” Theron said in her acceptance speech. Theron continued, “There’s one thing I’d like to [say to the] viewers out there: as mothers, fathers, teach your children to have tolerance and acceptance. At the end of the day, we’re all the same.”

Also at the ceremony, Laura Dern presented rock icon Melissa Etheridge with GLAAD’s Stephen F. Kolzak Award, honouring openly lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender media professionals who have made a significant difference in promoting equal rights for our community.

“There’s one thing I can tell you — the one thing that makes us stronger as a community is coming out,” Etheridge said accepting her award. “[When] we put ourselves out there, we show people that we are gay and we’re not going to hurt you. We live, we love, we have children, we get married. We are people. I love being a gay person — a lesbian in 2006.”

The pre-show VIP reception featured the first public appearance of Jack and Ennis’ intertwined shirts from Brokeback Mountain. Purchased for more than $100,000 in an online auction by actor and activist Tom Gregory, the shirts were displayed along with the film’s actual postcards in a re-creation of the closet from the GLAAD Media Award-winning film’s final scene.

The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) is dedicated to promoting and ensuring fair, accurate, and inclusive representation of people and events in the media as a means of eliminating homophobia and discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation.

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