Hollywood’s inconsistent track record in portraying gay and lesbian characters on the big screen is reflected in the 1993 Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation media awards announced Monday.
“There wasn’t any (feature film) award given for 1992,” said GLAAD’s Los Angeles executive director Lee Werbel, “because there were no positive feature films.”
But this year the honor goes to “Philadelphia,” director Jonathan Demme’s film about a gay attorney with AIDS who is fired from his job. The TriStar Pictures release is the first major American feature film to deal directly with the 10-year-old AIDS epidemic. GLAAD said the film “brings a message of compassion and understanding about gay men and AIDS.”
The TV sitcom “Seinfeld,” HBO’s made for television film “And the Band Played On,” Tony Kushner’s stage drama “Angels in America” and recording artist Melissa Etheridge also will take home awards from the March 19 banquet in Los Angeles underwritten by the David Geffen Foundation. The awards are voted by the membership of GLAAD’s national affiliates.
NBC’s “Seinfeld” is cited for its “continued inclusion of gay and lesbian characters.” HBO’s production of author Randy Shilts’ “And the Band Played On” was credited for chronicling the first decade of AIDS, and Etheridge was honored for acknowledging she is lesbian and, in doing so, helping to “eliminate stereotypes.”
In terms of sheer “visibility,” as the category is labeled, GLAAD’s winner is playwright Harvey Fierstein, for his overall contributions to increasing the visibility of gays and lesbians in the media.
Independent film winners: Samuel Goldwyn Co.'s release of “The Wedding Banquet” and the New York-based Women Make Movies release of “Forbidden Love: The Unashamed Stories of Lesbian Lives.”
Other TV winners: “Sisters” for an ongoing lesbian character; “Law and Order” for an episode dealing with homophobia in the field of law enforcement; and the CBS afterschool special “Other Mothers.”
Other winners: community service, Highways Performance Space; advertising, Kenneth Cole; TV journalism, Maria Shriver’s report on “Gays in the ‘90s”; magazine journalism, Farai Chideya for a Spin magazine article on homophobia in the recording business; Deb Price of the Detroit News, the first nationally syndicated openly lesbian columnist; and a special award honoring MTV.