What a difference a year makes. The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation will present its inaugural Ally Award to Brett Ratner, who stepped aside as producer of the 2012 Academy Awards telecast after making an anti-gay slur.
The award will be presented at the group's 24th annual Media Awards next week. In a phone interview Friday, GLAAD president Herndon Graddick said that the award is for Ratner's work on a series of star-studded public service announcements that will be unveiled during the awards gala set for March 16 in New York City.
"I’ve never worked with someone so willing to put the past behind and move forward to make a difference, whether by our campaign or by hosting a fundraiser in his home to help elect the first lesbian mayor of New York,” said Graddick in reference to Ratner’s support of mayoral candidate Christine Quinn.
“This is an example of a man willing to put his ego aside and roll up his sleeves for LGBT," Graddick added. "I’m proud to have worked with him and I consider him a friend.”
Ratner bowed out of the Oscars job in November 2011. The controversy erupted after a Q&A; session following a screening of "Tower Heist," which Ratner directed. At the Q&A;, Ratner said, "rehearsal is for fags." He then went on Howard Stern's Sirius XM radio show and talked explicitly about his sex life.
Ratner issued a letter of apology that read in part: "As difficult as the last few days have been for me, they cannot compare to the experience of any young man or woman who has been the target of offensive slurs or derogatory comments.... So many artists and craftspeople in our business are members of the LGBT community, and it pains me deeply that I may have hurt them. I should have known this all along, but at least I know it now: words do matter. Having love in your heart doesn't count for much if what comes out of your mouth is ugly and bigoted. With this in mind, and to all those who understandably feel that apologies are not enough, please know that I will be taking real action over the coming weeks and months in an effort to do everything I can both professionally and personally to help stamp out the kind of thoughtless bigotry I've so foolishly perpetuated."
Graddick says Ratner not only helped conceive of the PSAs, which feature stars as varied as Charlie Sheen, Giada De Laurentiis and Jackie Chan, but he also was GLAAD's partner all the way through production, donating his time and money to the project.
“I don’t think Brett Ratner was ever a homophobe,” said Graddick, who first met Ratner after the controversy over the slur. “I think he said something stupid. Getting to know him has borne that out.”