GLAAD, a widely respected LGBTQ media advocacy organization, honored CNN anchor and correspondent Don Lemon and Y Combinator President Sam Altman at the 2017 GLAAD Gala, Sep. 9 in San Francisco. The event recognizes tech innovators and storytellers who advance LGBTQ acceptance and also funds GLAAD’s work to grow LGBTQ inclusion in digital and social media. Television personality Ross Mathews hosted the event.
Lemon came out as gay in his 2011 memoir “Transparent” — and his career has taken a few lashes in recent years. Lemon was named in a 2014 list of worst journalists by the Columbia Journalism Review. The following year, New York Daily News reported that “more than 30,000 people have signed a petition calling on the news channel to fire bombastic newsman Don Lemon after he insisted that his colleagues Wolf Blitzer and legal analyst Sunny Hostin withhold deciding whether South Carolina ‘resource officer’ Ben Fields used excessive force when removing a student from a classroom.”
At age 19, Altman co-founded and became CEO of Loopt, a social networking mobile app. In 2015, he was named the top investor under 30 by Forbes. Altman was honored at the gala with the Ric Weiland Award that honors innovators who advance LGBT equality through tech and new media.
House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi surprised the sold out crowd of over 500 attendees when she appeared to present Altman with the award. In her speech, Leader Pelosi spoke about rising threats to LGBTQ Americans and called out President Trump’s proposed ban on transgender service members saying: “It’s a move that hurts and humiliates the thousands of Americans who serve in our military with strength and courage.”
Video of Leader Pelosi:
Video of Don Lemon accepting the Davidson/Valentini Award, which is presented to an openly LGBT individual who has made a significant difference in promoting equal rights for the LGBT community:
The GLAAD Gala in San Francisco included moving performances by Julia Michaels and poet Royce Mann. Tommy Dorfman and Katherine Langford from Netflix’s “13 Reasons Why,” YouTubers Kat Blaque and Riley J. Dennis, DJ and singer Zeke Thomas, activist Blair Imani, and trans veteran Laila Ireland were among the special guests and presenters.
The previous day, GLAAD held its inaugural Rising Stars Luncheon and presented three LGTBTQ young people with grants for advocacy projects. The GLAAD Rising Stars program empowers and invests in the next generation of LGBTQ change makers, whose advocacy is changing their local communities and the culture at large. In San Francisco, recipients of the Rising Stars grants were chosen for their work that uses social media, digital media or technology to enhance LGBTQ experiences online and in their communities. More info here: https://www.glaad.org/blog/glaad-announces-san-francisco-rising-stars-grant-recipients