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GLAAD Media Awards: Jennifer Lawrence Roasts Mike Pence, Drag Activist Protests Inside Ceremony

The 35th annual GLAAD Media Awards took place in New York City. Singer and talk show host Jennifer Hudson and country singer Orville Peck were honored.

via: THR

The East Coast portion of the 2024 GLAAD Media Awards was marked by two raucous moments at Saturday night’s Manhattan gala — one from Jennifer Lawrence, as she added some cutting, deadpan humor as she presented an achievement award and another when a drag artist and trans activist interrupted the gala’s proceedings to draw attention to the organization’s ties to Israel and its deadly military campaign in Gaza.

On Saturday at the Hilton hotel in Manhattan, Lawrence took the stage to present the Vito Russo Award to gay country singer Orville Peck. Before speaking of her friendship with Peck, the Oscar winner took a shot at former Vice President Mike Pence, who has been accused of, at one point, supporting gay conversion therapy.

“I love the gay community. In fact, I was in love with a homosexual,” she revealed. “ It was my first love. I tried to convert him for years, but now I know conversion therapy doesn’t work. Did you hear me, Mike Pence? I said, [shouting] conversion therapy isn’t real—even though I know you think it worked on you.

“You know, he’s in New York tonight. I know. I know. He’s receiving a Kids Choice Award for weird dick,’’ she said, guffawing as the crowd roared, then adding. “I didn’t write that one.”

The Vito Russo Award, named for a founding member of GLAAD, is given to an artist who has “made a significant difference and accelerated LGBTQ acceptance.” On Saturday, another artist was in attendance and trying to make a difference right there among some of the media industry’s top LGBTQ players by noting GLAAD’s ties to the Anti-Defamation League and apparent silence about Israel’s military campaign in Gaza, which many are calling a genocide of the Palestinian people. 

As the night’s awards presentations began with comic Ross Mathews’ opening monologue, transgender drag artist Chiquitita, who had been part of a group of around 150 demonstrators outside of the event had made her way inside with fellow New York drag queen DiDi Opulence, who managed to get into the ceremony when grassroots activist group ACT UP, which organized the outdoor demonstration, secured two wristbands. As the night’s event got underway, Chiquitita stood up and began repeating “GLAAD is complicit in genocide” as the perplexed-looking crowd looked on from the banquet tables. 

Speaking with The Hollywood Reporter, Chiquitita said she knew the right moment had come just before RuPaul’s Drag Race judge Matthews’ took the stage. This was just after a video had played throughout the banquet hall in which a person was speaking about how drag queens have been at the forefront of protests for rights for decades.

“It was something like drag queens throughout history… fighting for equal rights and shit,” she said by phone. “And then it was as soon as I heard what the video was, I was like, ‘Oh, this is meant to be like this. I have to do this. I can not-not do this, right now. Once they said Ross Matthews — I had no idea that was about to come up on that stage. I was like, ‘This is this could not be more perfect.’”

Chiquitita told THR that her act of protest was met by dead silence from the room full of LGBTQ supporters on Saturday. From the stage. Matthews then reminded the crowd that, “this is America, and we have free speech here,” she recalled. “And so basically, we have to listen to everyone’s opinion, no matter whether we agree with them or not.” Chiquitita says she found this to be condescending, yet still tried to acknowledge that this is an important point but was soon peacefully removed from the event by security. DiDi Opulence had already been removed.

On the way out, she says, a GLAAD event organizer yelled at her that the organization is not complicit in genocide.

Chiquitita, who recently appeared in the Netflix series Glamorous, was also the emcee at the protest outside GLAAD’s big night in New York, which included speeches from queer Palestinian artists and activists, healthcare workers and organizers working to aid Gaza refugees in Egypt. At the same time, a 40-foot-long banner reading “NY LOVES GAZA” was unfurled from the 42nd floor of the New York Hilton Midtown, where Saturday night’s event was held.

“This was a direct response to an email campaign that we launched at GLAAD over a month before to please break their silence and to take a firm stance with the Palestinian people,” Ariel Friedlander, an ACT UP member since 2018, told The Hollywood Reporter by phone. She added that it was Vito Russo, whose namesake award Lawrence presented that night, who directly inspired the activist group to organize the pro-Palestine demonstration.

“[Russo] talked about how living with AIDS is like living through a war that nobody sees or nobody knows is happening,” Friedlander said, referring to a speech the ACT UP co-founder made at a 1988 demonstration, when more than 16,000 people had died of AIDS, leading some to compare the epidemic to a genocide. “Over 40,000 people have died in Gaza and [GLAAD] is refusing to take a stand against genocide.”

Friedlander said that the protesters had four clear demands from GLAAD: The platforming of queer and trans Palestinian voices; calling for a permanent and immediate ceasefire in Gaza; denouncing genocide, apartheid and occupation by Israel; and dropping its partnership with the Anti-Defamation League.

In an email on Monday, a rep for GLAAD wrote that, “GLAAD does not support genocides or murders of innocent people. We do support free speech. We tried to meet with ACT UP NY before Saturday, but they were not available until this week.”

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