Reneé Rapp Calls for Gaza Ceasefire at GLAAD Media Awards

Reneé Rapp called for an “immediate” and “permanent ceasefire” in Gaza during the GLAAD Media Awards, held Thursday night at The Beverly Hilton hotel in Los Angeles.

“We’re in a room of very influential people, very privileged people, which is exciting and also a huge privilege to be a part of that,” Rapp said during a speech accepting her award for outstanding music artist. “Having said that, I’d like to take the opportunity to show support and call for an immediate ceasefire and permanent ceasefire in Gaza.”

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Rapp’s call for action over the ongoing Gaza conflict was met with applause, as the singer and actor finished off her time on stage with a plea for the audience “to continue to advocate for yourselves, continue to advocate for your friends, your queer friends and for those who can’t advocate for themselves.”

Politics appeared later in the evening, when GLAAD CEO and President Sarah Kate Ellis encouraged viewers to vote in the upcoming election to protect queer and trans rights nationally, referencing the death of 16-year-old nonbinary teen Nex Benedict. “We have to keep telling our stories, raising our voices, pushing back on the rhetoric. Folks, this is not a fire drill. This is the actual fire.”

Hosted by Wayne Brady, the awards ceremony saw honors bestowed upon Niecy Nash-Betts, who received the Stephen F. Kolzak Award for an out LGBTQ person who raises visibility for the community, and Oprah Winfrey, who accepted the Vanguard Award for championing allyship. Additional attendees included Shonda Rhimes, Matt Bomer, Micaela Jaé Rodriguez, Jonathan Bailey, Sydney Sweeney, Billie Joe Armstrong, Jason Sudeikis and the cast from Ted Lasso;Alexandra Shipp, Melanie Lynskey and the cast of Yellowjackets; JoJo Siwa, Chrishell Stause and G Flip, with special performances by Kate Hudson and Chlöe.

Nash-Betts took to the stage following an introduction by her friend Sharon Stone, tracing her origin story back to when she was 5, watching Lola Falana on television and telling her grandmother that she, too, wanted to be “Black, fabulous and on TV.”

“I didn’t live a sexually repressed life,” the Emmy winner said of her coming out journey, which she describes as not having “anywhere to come out of.” “I loved boys — until I didn’t. I loved them until I encountered the most beautiful soul I have ever met. That’s my good thing right there, stand up and let the people look at you. You can’t love somebody like that in the shadows, come on now,” she said, shouting out her wife, singer-songwriter Jessica Betts.

Nash-Betts — who, along with her wife, became the first same-sex couple to grace the cover of Essence — recounted how Winfrey came to her aid prior to the relationship going public: “If you’ve never been on the phone with the Oprah Winfrey, I feel sorry for you. This woman is like a human GPS for your soul,” she said. “That’s friendship, that’s sisterhood, having a connection with someone who wants to make sure that at every moment you are advocating properly for yourself.”

The former Rookie: Feds star closed out her speech by telling a story of her daughter, who had shown her a video guiding her to put a label on her sexual identity, saying, “I wanna thank all of you for holding space for me ‘till I figure my terms out.”

Winfrey, who has long championed LGBTQ+ rights on her eponymous talk show and been outspoken about correcting misinformation during the height of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, said in her speech that she wished her late brother, who died from AIDS, could have been alive to witness the community’s advancement.

“At the time, I really didn’t know how deeply my brother internalized the shame that he felt about being gay,” she began in her speech. “I wish he could have lived to witness these liberated times and to be here with me tonight.”

In concluding her words, she added, “When we can see one another, truly see one another, when we are open to supporting the truth of a fellow human, it makes for a full, rich, vibrant life for us all. And that’s what I wish my brother Jeffrey could have experienced — a world that could see him for who he was and appreciate him for what he brought to this world.”

The GLAAD Media Awards serve to honor media for fair, accurate and inclusive representations of queer people and issues. Since its inception in 1990, the show has grown to be the most visible annual LGBTQ ceremony and fundraiser in the world.

The Los Angeles show of the GLAAD Media Awards will air on Hulu on March 29.

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