NEW YORK -- Tina Fey, Patrick Wilson, Denis O'Hare, Pauley Perrette, Wilson Cruz, Jane Velez-Mitchell and Lawrence O'Donnell were among the celebrities who joined the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) as it honored Ricky Martin, Russell Simmons and the best in television and journalism last night at the 22nd annual GLAAD Media Awards in New York.
The GLAAD Media Awards recognize and honor media for their fair, accurate and inclusive representations of the LGBT community and the issues that affect their lives.
The GLAAD Media Awards also fund GLAAD's work to amplify stories of LGBT people and issues that build support for equality.
At the ceremony, film and Broadway producer Craig Zadan, presented the Vito Russo Award to Grammy Award-winning pop star, Ricky Martin, whose decision to speak about his life as a gay man has had a tremendous impact worldwide, especially for Latino youth and their parents.
The Vito Russo Award is presented to an openly LGBT media professional who has made a significant difference in promoting equality for the LGBT community.
Listen to Ricky Martin's speech:
Also at the event, the Rev. Al Sharpton presented the Excellence in Media Award to pioneering hip-hop producer, entrepreneur and philanthropist Russell Simmons, who has repeatedly spoken out on issues of concern to the LGBT community, urging Americans to support full equality.
The Excellence in Media Award is presented to individuals who, through their work, have increased the visibility and understanding of the LGBT community in the media.
"It's a great honor and I'm truly appreciative of the GLAAD Media Awards including me in this special night," Simmons said in his acceptance speech. "I'm humbled by having one of my mentors and heroes Rev. Sharpton giving me this award. It's no secret that faith-based communities, in some cases, have been difficult, and I think that for all of us who step outside of our comfort zone and fight for the rights of others, we are blessed.
"And Rev. Sharpton [has] stood up in so many ways and has been very special. And to the gay and lesbian community he's a true blessing. I'm honored and appreciative and I just want to thank everybody. Thank you."
Actress, writer and producer Tina Fey accepted the award for Outstanding Individual Episode for the "Klaus & Greta" episode of "30 Rock."
Openly gay actor Denis O'Hare, who played Vampire King Russell Edgington, accepted the award on behalf of "True Blood" which received the nod for Outstanding Drama Series.
The award for Outstanding Digital Journalism – Multimedia was accepted by journalist Bobbi Misick, Emil Wilbekin, managing editor of Essence.com, and Danielle and Aisha Moodie-Mills for the Essence.com story "Bridal Bliss: Aisha and Danielle." This story was the first time Essence.com included a lesbian couple in its weekly wedding feature.
"The year's honorees, nominees and award recipients represent diverse stories that are building acceptance and understanding about our community through their excellent work," said GLAAD President Jarrett Barrios. "GLAAD thanks all in attendance for joining us and voicing their support for equality."
Andy Cohen, Bravo's executive vice president of original programming & development, hosted the evening, and Cirque du Soleil performed an act from their newest show Zarkana for the capacity crowd.
Other guests and presenters at the event included: Vinny Guadagnino ("Jersey Shore"); Miss USA Rima Fakih; Josh Kilmer-Purcell, Brent Ridge ("The Fabulous Beekman Boys"); film and Broadway producer Neil Meron; Zac Young, Gail Simmons ("Top Chef: Just Desserts"); Ted Allen, Alex Guarnaschelli ("Chopped"); Sandra Lee ("Semi-Homemade Cooking"); Liz Lee ("My Life as Liz"); Mike Ruiz, Sahara Davenport, Manila Luzon ("RuPaul's Drag Race"); Laverne Cox ("TRANSform Me"); sports journalist LZ Granderson; Chris March ("Mad Fashion"); Nathan Williams ("Girls Who Like Boys Who Like Boys"); Spencer Liff ("So You Think You Can Dance"); Sonja Morgan ("The Real Housewives of New York City"); Phillip Bloch (fashion designer); Texas student activist Bianca "Nikki" Peet; and GLAAD President Jarrett Barrios.
Guests at the after-party enjoyed the music of renowned DJ Tracy Young.
This year, GLAAD expanded its Young Adults Program from Los Angeles to New York.
Support from corporate partners like Bridgestone Americas and Cirque du Soleil, and GLAAD supporters Glenn Close, Alan Cumming, Tom Ford & Richard Buckley, Suze Orman, Bishop Gene Robinson, Dame Elizabeth Taylor and Barbara Walters allowed GLAAD to offer free tickets to the event to over 300 youth and young adults from the greater New York area.
Students affiliated with Columbia University, the AIDS Center of Queens County, the Hetrick-Martin Institute, and the Streetwork Project enjoyed the show and a private after-party.
In 2011, the GLAAD Media Awards is celebrating GLAAD's 25th anniversary year, looking back at a quarter-century of work to build acceptance and advance equality through LGBT images in the media.
View a complete list of the GLAAD Media Award recipients announced Saturday, March 19, in New York; or view this video clip of the nominees:
Additional awards will be presented in Los Angeles on April 10 at the Westin Bonaventure and in San Francisco on May 14 at the San Francisco Marriott Marquis. Purchase tickets online.