Naya Rivera remembered and trans youth highlighted at the GLAAD Media Awards 2021

The annual awards event, hosted by Niecy Nash, was held virtually on Thursday and saw awards go to Netflix's 'Disclosure', 'I May Destroy You' and Sam Smith.

Two musicians posing at an award show

The 32nd GLAAD Media Awards took place last night, premiering exclusively on GLAAD’s YouTube channel with top prizes going to Joe Mantello’s The Boys in the Band, Sam Feder’s transgender representation documentary Disclosure and the Paramount+ series Star Trek: Discovery. 

The aim of the ceremony, as always, is to celebrate the outstanding accomplishments of the LGBTQ+ community and its allies through a variety of mediums in media across the globe.

While there was much to celebrate, given the extraordinary year that was 2020, the GLAAD Awards also delivered moments of emotion and remembrance as pop singer, Demi Lovato joined the cast of Glee to pay a special tribute to actress Naya Rivera and her character Santana Lopez. Naya tragically passed away in July last year.

Her role and storyline in the series were acknowledged as having inspired so many closeted queer viewers and broken down barriers for queer representation in mainstream media.

Non binary pop icon, Sam Smith took home the award for Outstanding Music Artist for their album, Love Goes. The award was presented by Katy Perry with Sam acknowledging how music helped them get through the past year.

Canadian comedian and talk show host, Lilly Singh accepted the award for Outstanding Variety or Talk Show Episode for her A Little Late With Lilly Singh segment, ‘Lilly Responds to Comments About Her Sexuality.’

“I came out relatively late in life…you know, in other cultures like South Asian culture…there is still a stigma attached to being your true authentic self. So I want to say that I see you. I recognise you. You are valid. You are beautiful. Nothing about you needs to change.”

Star of Sesame Street, Elmo got in on the action too as they took the award for Best Children’s Programming for their show, The Not-Too-Late Show with Elmo.

The award was announced by newly-out social media sensation JoJo Siwa, who used her time in the show to celebrate how young viewers can look to her as an example that it’s okay to love who you want to love.

“I think it’s really cool that kids all around the world who look up to me can now see that loving who you want to love is totally awesome. If you want to fall in love with a girl, if you want to fall in love with a boy, if you want to fall with someone who is non-binary, that is incredible. Love is awesome.”

Throughout the GLAAD Awards, presenters called out the many recent attacks on the community, including the continuing violence against black trans women and anti-trans legislation. Just this week, Arkansas, USA became the first state to block medical care for trans youth.

American actor Sterling K. Brown announced the award for Outstanding Documentary going to Sam Feder’s Disclosure which explores trans representation through media over the decades. Upon accepting the award, Laverne Cox spoke directly to young transgender viewers watching the show.

“To the trans youth watching right now, we want you to know that you’re anointed, that despite all of the attacks that might be happening against you, you are divine. You deserve to be. You are here for a reason. You must survive to fulfill that divine purpose.”

In a press release from, it is revealed that increasingly networks are realising that viewers want to watch shows that are a reflection of society. This includes diverse and authentic LGBTQ+ main characters and the GLAAD Media Awards reflects this.

LGBTQ+ representation in sitcoms has increased. Over half of top rated modern sitcoms have at least one main character who identifies as LGBTQ+ with 10% of all main characters in modern sitcoms identify as LGBTQ+. This has increased from just 1% of top rated classic sitcoms.

In recent years, many award ceremonies have received criticism for their lack of representation in their award nominations. As a result, many academies are pledging diversity initiatives, including the BAFTA Awards who have made 120 changes to its awards in an effort to increase diversity.

© 2021 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.

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