January 17, 2020 at 2:41 am PST | by John Paul King
GLAAD to present Ryan Murphy with Vito Russo Award

Ryan Murphy at the 2018 unveiling of his star on Hollywood Boulevard (Photo via Instagram)

LGBTQ entertainment mastermind Ryan Murphy has been announced by GLAAD as the winner of one of its most prestigious honors, the LGBTQ media advocacy group revealed on Thursday.

Murphy, the award-winning screenwriter, producer, and director behind “Glee,” “American Horror Story,” “Feud,” and “Pose,” among a host of other LGBTQ fan-favorite projects across various media, will be honored as part of the 31st Annual GLAAD Media Awards in the Spring. The GLAAD Media Awards honor media for fair, accurate, and inclusive representations of LGBTQ people and issues, this year with over 175 previously-announced nominees competing in 30 categories.

In addition to the competitive awards, GLAAD also presents several special awards, honoring specific individuals who have used their platform in the media to advance the cause of LGBTQ acceptance worldwide.

The world’s largest LGBTQ advocacy organization had previously revealed Taylor Swift and Janet Mock as the 2020 recipients of the Vanguard Award and the Stephen F. Kolzak Award, respectively, with the awards to be presented at a ceremony in Los Angeles on Thursday, April 16.

The new announcement names Murphy as the recipient of the Vito Russo Award. Russo, a founder of GLAAD and a celebrated ACT UP activist, pushed open doors for LGBTQ performers and stories to be included in the news and entertainment media. The award named in his honor is presented annually to an openly LGBTQ media professional who has made a significant difference in accelerating LGBTQ acceptance; previous honorees include Billy Porter, Anderson Cooper, Ricky Martin, Andy Cohen, Cynthia Nixon, RuPaul, Rosie O’Donnell, Tom Ford, Samira Wiley, Thomas Roberts, George Takei, Alan Cumming, Craig Zadan, Liz Smith, and Neil Meron, among others. Murphy will receive the honor at an earlier GLAAD Media Awards presentation at the Hilton Midtown in New York on Thursday, March 19.

In a statement, GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis said, “Ryan Murphy is a talented trailblazer behind some of the most innovative and popular LGBTQ projects in television, theater and film history, and he continues to bring underrepresented LGBTQ voices to the table in ways that raise the bar in Hollywood. Ryan’s unique and gifted brand of storytelling has not only entertained the masses, but provided LGBTQ youth with characters who inspire them to live boldly and proudly.”

It’s not the first time the Emmy, Golden Globe, Tony, and Peabody-winning LGBTQ media mogul has been honored by GLAAD. He has previously been nominated for GLAAD Media Awards for multiple projects, winning for shows like “Pose,” “Glee,” “American Horror Story: Asylum,” “The New Normal,” “Popular,” and “American Crime Story: The Assassination of Gianni Versace.” This year he is nominated again in two categories, Outstanding Comedy Series (for “The Politician,” his most recent Neflix series) and Outstanding Drama Series (for “Pose,” which made history by featuring the largest transgender series regular cast and the largest LGBTQ cast ever for a scripted series).

Murphy’s work has not been limited to episodic television. He has been lauded for his film version of “Running With Scissors,” as well as for his HBO adaptation of Larry Kramer’s seminal AIDS drama, “The Normal Heart,” which was a previous winner at the GLAAD Media Awards in addition to several Emmy and Golden Globe honors.

On stage, he produced the Tony-winning 2018 Broadway revival of the iconic LGBTQ play “The Boys in the Band,” which featured a cast of out actors that included Jim Parsons, Zachary Quinto and Matt Bomer. He has produced a film version of the stage hit, slated for release this year.

Also coming soon are the upcoming series “Ratched” and “Hollywood,” both co-written, directed and produced by Murphy, who is also set to direct the feature film adaptation of “The Prom,” the hit Broadway musical about a gay high school teenager who stands up against anti-LGBTQ discrimination in her small town. It will have a cast that includes Meryl Streep, Nicole Kidman and James Corden, among others.

Murphy has not just promoted LGBTQ acceptance through his work in the entertainment industry. He’s also used his platform to elevate  LGBTQ and minority voices in other ways: in 2018, he announced that all profits from “Pose” would be donated to charitable organizations working with LGBTQ people, such as the Sylvia Rivera Law Project, Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund, and Callen-Lorde Community Health Center; last year, he hosted a special benefit performance of “The Prom,” in with proceeds going to LGBTQ organizations including the Hetrick-Martin Institute, GLAAD, and The Trevor Project. He previously launched an initiative called Half, which aims to create equal opportunities for women and minorities behind the camera in Hollywood. Less than a year later, his own Ryan Murphy Television had a director’s slate that featured 60% women, with 90% being women and/or minorities

This year, the GLAAD Media Awards, including the returning category for Outstanding Broadway Production. The Outstanding Kids & Family Programming category has been expanded to ten nominees, and GLAAD has also announced Special Recognition honors for Netflix’s “Special,” and for pioneering LGBTQ journalists Karen Ocamb (California Editor for the Blade), and Mark Segal.

For a full list of the nominees, click here.

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