Singer Patti LaBelle and designer Tom Ford are among the luminaries honoured for their gay-friendly stance at the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) Media Awards on Monday night.

Whoopi Goldberg, Julianne Moore, Jennifer Hudson, Billie Jean King, Phil Donahue; Hilary Duff and John Waters were among the dozens of celebrities who attended the 18th version of the annual awards in New York.

The GLAAD Media Awards recognise and honour mainstream media for their fair, accurate and inclusive representations of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community and the issues that affect their lives.

At the ceremony, Jennifer Hudson presented the Excellence in Media Award to Patti LaBelle in recognition of LaBelle’s strong support of full equality for the LGBT community and her work to raise awareness about HIV/AIDS.

“I am so honoured that the gay and lesbian community honours me tonight because I have been with you for 45 years,” LaBelle said in her acceptance speech. “I don’t know why people discriminate against you. I don’t know why people can’t see you marrying…whatever you want to do, it should be accepted by the world.”

Also at the event, Julianne Moore presented the Vito Russo Award to fashion designer Tom Ford. The Vito Russo Award is presented to an openly lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender media professional who has made a significant difference in promoting equal rights for the LGBT community.

“Just the simple fact that an award such as this exists confirms the need for all of us to stand up and be proud of who we are,” Ford said accepting his award. “And I am indeed proud to be honoured by an organisation that fights prejudice and intolerance in our society.”

Cynthia Nixon presented the Pioneer Award to comedian Kate Clinton. In 2006, Clinton celebrated her twenty-fifth year as an openly lesbian humorist and social commentator.

Rosie O’Donnell and director Shari Cookson accepted the award for Outstanding Documentary for All Aboard! Rosie’s Family Cruise. Tim Gunn was on hand to accept the Outstanding Reality Program award for Bravo’s Project Runway.

Writer/directors Wash Westmoreland and Richard Glatzer, along with the film’s star, Jesse Garcia, accepted for Quinceañera, recipient of the GLAAD Media Award for Outstanding Film – Limited Release.

Daniel Peres, editor-in-chief of Details, accepted the award for Outstanding Magazine Overall Coverage.

In remarks at the event, GLAAD President Neil G. Giuliano emphasized the importance of GLAAD’s work. “As I have travelled across the country in my first year with GLAAD, I have said many times that how our lives are portrayed in the media doesn’t make a bit of difference; it makes all the difference,” Giuliano said. “Your visibility matters. And our individual stories, which create conversation and raise awareness, must never be underestimated in their importance.”

Actress and comedian Whoopi Goldberg opened the show, and comedian Judy Gold performed for the capacity audience of 1,600. Guests at the after-party enjoyed the music of renowned DJ Junior Vasquez.

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