Madonna Honors Anderson Cooper at GLAAD Awards Gala
The Material Girl once again turned it out and had everyone at the GLAAD Media Awards gala gaga when she got up on the stage of New York’s Marriott Marquis Hotel dressed as a cub scout.
No one missed Madonna’s sly allusion, comment on and satire of the Boy Scouts of America latest contretemps for refusing to allow gay scouts or scout masters. The pop megastar appeared at the 24th annual gala on Saturday night to present CNN anchor Anderson Cooper with the annual Vito Russo Award. This was Cooper’s fourth such recognition for his continuing work in bringing awareness of gay issues to the American public, but it marked the first such one since he himself (finally) came out as gay.
"I’m ready to start a revolution," Madonna proclaimed from the podium. "Are you with me?" The crowd rousingly cheered her on. This being Madonna, she included a snippet of product promotion with the political posturing. During her introduction, the video monitors displayed footage from the upcoming DVD release of her "MDNA World Tour."
More dramatically, images of young people who had committed suicide after falling prey to bullying brought home Madonna’s rhetorical question "Land of the free? Home of the brave?"
When it came time to present the evening’s main honoree with his award, Madonna took advantage of the opportunity to grab a handful of Cooper’s rear end (lucky girl!). "Do I have lipstick from Madonna on my lips?" he asked the crowd after she bussed him on his (facial) cheek. "That would be a first."
The Evening’s Honorees
It didn’t go unnoticed by the journalist that he was receiving an award named after one of the pioneers in gay media. "Vito Russo was a true hero," Cooper acknowledged, at times noticeably emotional during his acceptance speech. Russo, a longtime gay activist, wrote the seminal text on gay portrayals in Hollywood cinema, "The Celluloid Closet."
Cooper, the son of socialite and jeans designer Gloria Vanderbilt, began his career in journalism by faking a press pass to plunge himself into the thick of the most dangerous places in the world to get the story.
After years of speculation and being spotted with various boyfriends, Cooper finally made official what many had long suspected when he came out to blogger Andrew Sullivan last July. "I’ve had so many blessings in my life," Cooper told the crowd, "and certainly being gay has been one of them."
Also being honored at the assembly was film director Brett Ratner. Two years ago, Ratner made headlines when the board that runs the Academy Awards broadcast took the production away him after he let slip a faux pas during an interview.
Since then, Ratner has been working on a series of public service announcements that encourage the support of straight allies to "come out of the closet" for LGBT rights. It was for this work, that GLAAD honored Ratner on Saturday with its Ally Award.
What was missing from the gala, however, were any of the PSAs themselves, which weren’t screened. Sources close to Ratner told EDGE that the director was a bit disappointed that none of the PSAs were shown.
Entrepreneur and LGBT ally Russell Simmons and GLAAD President Herndon Graddick presented the award to Ratner. In his acceptance speech, Ratner alluded to his own media firestorm when he acknowledged the power of a single word and how that power can sometimes have unfortunate consequences.
The Award Goes To...
ABC’s "Good Morning America" on-air personalities Lara Spencer, Josh Elliott and recent newlywed Sam Champion presided over the GLAAD Media Awards.
Among those receiving GLAAD Awards were TV series "Smash" for Outstanding Drama Series, and "The Amazing Race" for Outstanding Reality Program. The show’s recent winners and engaged gay couple known as The Beekman Boys were present to receive the honor on the show’s behalf.
"How To Survive a Plague," the documentary that tells the story of the protesters during the early days of the AIDS epidemic in the early ’80s who faced down the government’s refusal to take action won for Outstanding Documentary.
As in previous years, the GLAAD Media Awards will once again be held as a trifecta, with New York leading the charge. Events will follow in Los Angeles on April 20 and San Francisco on May 11. Tickets for those events are currently available at www.glaad.org.
Watch Madonna’s speech from the event here: