George Takei's Powerful GLAAD Media Award Speech Is a Must-Watch — VIDEO
In George Takei's own words, "it's a great day to be Takei." Takei took the stage Saturday night to accept GLAAD's Vito Russo Award and, in doing so, spoke powerful truths about how far the media has come in accepting the LGBT community — and how far we, as a society, need to go. His acceptance speech praised GLAAD for its efforts in showing the stories of the LGBT community:
In the 25 years since its founding, GLAAD has dramatically changed American society for gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people. I know, because as a closeted kid growing up in Los Angeles…all I saw of gays and lesbians in movies and television or heard on radio were caricatures of people who were mocked and laughed at, or pitied, or hated. The media stripped us of all humanity and made us into pathetic stereotypes. The media then was a soul-crushing monster. GLAAD took on this formidable beast with its media savvy, political acumen and the power of its advocacy and transformed the media into a powerful force for change.
While Takei may praise GLAAD for taking on a media that stripped the LGBT community of its voice, Takei himself has made many strides towards equality. The Star Trek actor came out publicly as gay in 2005 (at the time, he was with his current husband for 18 years) but has been an activist for the LGBT community for years prior, working with organizations such as Frontrunners, an LGBT walking group. The advocate and actor frequently uses his social media platforms to spread awareness, and even pokes fun at anti-gay movements. (Just check out his hysterical response to "traditional" marriage fans.)
Takei also makes a point to note how far our society still has to go. While GLAAD's efforts have truly changed the way the media showcases the stories of the LGBT community, there is still much to be done in order to ensure true equality for everyone. Takei highlights some of the issues that must be faced in the second part of his speech, stating:
As long as LGBT people can be fired from their job for simply being who they are, our work isn’t done yet. As long as young people are kicked out of their families just for being who they are, our work is not done yet. As long as people are be bullied into feeling that their lives are so hopeless that they are driven to self-destructive acts, our work is not done.
It's baffling to me that there are people in this world who still see anyone from the LGBT community as inherently less than someone who identifies as straight. It's a depressing reality, but as Takei notes, it's also a reason to keep striving for equality. I'm glad that we have media professionals and advocates like Takei and fellow GLAAD award recipient Laverne Cox to both speak about how far we have come and about why we can't lose sight of the ultimate goal of equality.
Takei more than deserves the Vito Russo Award, and I'm glad GLAAD honored him for his efforts in helping to spread their important message.