Patricia Arquette, Troye Sivan and the Oscar winning Moonlight were among those honoured at the 28th Annual GLAAD Media Awards in Los Angeles on Saturday night.
The event – the largest LGBTQ awards ceremony in the world – recognises and honours media for their fair, accurate and inclusive representations of the LGBTQ community and the issues that affect their lives.
At the ceremony, Luke Perry and Jeffrey Tambor presented actress Patricia Arquette with GLAAD’s Vanguard Award, which is presented to media professionals who, through their work, have increased the visibility and understanding of the LGBTQ community.
In her acceptance speech, Patricia Arquette called out US Attorney General Jeff Sessions and the Department of Justice for ignoring a letter from six Democratic members of Congress calling for a federal hate crime investigation into the pattern of murders of transgender women.
“Can you hear us, Jeff Sessions?” she asked, and added, “You don’t need to have a trans family member, or a gay friend, or a questioning kid for this to affect you. It doesn’t matter what color or gender or faith you are. So many marginalised groups are under attack. When one of us is vulnerable, all of us are vulnerable.”
Arquette also remembered her late sister Alexis as a courageous trailblazer who “challenged the movie industry at its core” by living her truth as a trans woman. “She risked it all because she couldn’t live a lie,” Arquette stated. “Whatever mark I have made in this life in activism will always pale in the light of Alexis’s bravery. She did not knock on the door of progress. She kicked the door open.”
Also at the event, Carly Rae Jepsen joined legendary songwriter and GLAAD Board Member Justin Tranter to present South African born singer-songwriter Troye Sivan with the Stephen F. Kolzak Award, which honors LGBTQ media professionals who have made a significant difference in promoting equality and acceptance.
In his acceptance speech, Sivan called attention to enormous challenges faced by the LGBTQ community, including violence against transgender women of colour and rates of youth homelessness.
He concluded with a message of hope of empowerment, saying, “Don’t let anyone strip you of your truth and your love, because those are the foundations of who we are as a community.” He added, “In a time where it might be tempting to retreat into the shadows, I ask you to be louder – keep holding hands, keep finding pride in your identity, keep standing up for those in our community who are most vulnerable, keep love in your heart, and share it with the world.”
Music icon Mary J. Blige also presented the award for Outstanding Film – Wide Release to Moonlight. Tarell Alvin McCraney, the writer who created the play that the film was based on, accepted the award on the film’s behalf. He was joined onstage by Moonlight star Trevante Rhodes and producer Jeremy Kleiner.
Other winners included fantasy series Shadowhunters for Outstanding Drama Series and Transparent for Outstanding Comedy Series.
The event also featured a tribute to the lives lost in the Orlando Pulse nightclub attack by Empire’s Jussie Smollett and a powerful performance of Imagine by actress and singer Cynthia Erivo.