Tyra Banks (Jamie McCarthy/WireImage)

Vanessa Williams, Stockard Channing, T.R. Knight, Judith Light and Clay Aiken were among the celebrities who joined the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) as it honoured Tyra Banks, Suze Orman, Phil Donahue and the best in gay-friendly media at the 20th Annual GLAAD Media Awards in New York.

The media advocacy and anti-defamation organisation presents the awards to recognise and honour media for their fair, accurate and inclusive representations of the LGBT community.

At the ceremony, American Idol singer Clay Aiken presented the Excellence in Media Award to Tyra Banks, who has shown a strong commitment to educating the public about the lives of gay and transgender people on her talk show, The Tyra Banks Show, and on her reality series, America’s Next Top Model.

“[The LGBT community] empowered me. And in turn, when I finally had a platform, and a power, and a voice – no longer just a face, but a voice – to get across the points and the messages that were important to me, I brought you along with me,” Banks said in her acceptance speech.

“Because you embraced me and now I embrace you in front of millions to show how beautiful you are, how absolutely amazing you are, how giving you are. And I will continue to do that as long as I have a platform. I will continue to get the message out about gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people.”

T.R. Knight & Suze Orman
(Jamie McCarthy/WireImage)

Also at the event, actor T.R. Knight presented the Vito Russo Award to Suze Orman, personal finance expert and host of CNBC’s The Suze Orman Show. 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.

“I want every single one of you in this room to take note of what corporations put their time and money behind gays, behind lesbians – behind you. Do you want to continue to give your money to people in corporations that oppress us, that keep us down? Or do you want to give your money to the corporations who can help us rise and change what needs to be changed in the United States of America today,” Orman said accepting her award.

“I ask you to honor those corporations not only with your support but with your money as well. We can do this – and here’s how you’re going to do it. You are going to think about every single penny you spend from this day forward. And the only think I ask of you is to spend it and invest it in those companies that invest in you.”

Actress Cherry Jones presented a Special Recognition Award to former talk show host Phil Donahue, who was the honouree at the first GLAAD Media Awards in 1990.

Noah’s Arc: Jumping the Broom tied with Shelter for the GLAAD Media Award for Outstanding Film – Limited Release. Producer Sandi DuBowski and director Parvez Sharma accepted the award for Outstanding Documentary for A Jihad for Love, which has been screened at festivals in South Africa.

At the event, GLAAD also unveiled their new GLAAD Media Awards statuette. GLAAD worked with David Moritz at Society Awards to create the new trophy – the first time the organisation has re-designed their statuette since the inception of the GLAAD Media Awards.

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