You’ve likely noticed that the Oscar nominations came out this past week, but there’s another set of awards that we watch for at Atticus Circle — the GLAAD Media Awards, honoring those movies and TV shows that portray LGBT individuals in a positive light. As you might expect, the Oscar-nominated Milk is among the list of movies honored, and a number of shows on ABC — including Ugly Betty, Desperate Housewives, and Brothers & Sisters — are among the notable television programs nominated for awards.
One of the most important criteria for us in looking at LGBT portrayals in the media is to look at the relationships between LGBT people and their straight friends. On shows like Ugly Betty, being gay or transgender is part of the essence of what makes those particular characters memorable and intriguing, and their straight friends on the show know this. As funny and as over-the-top as a show like Ugly Betty can be, the way that LGBT and straight characters interact on that show is especially heartening to those of us who have similar relationships.
GLAAD has been giving these awards out for 20 years now, and looking at the list of shows and movies demonstrates how far we’ve come in our understanding of what it is to be LBGT, and how much less judgmental we’ve become as a society over time. Certainly, we’re not where we need to be yet. But the very existence of a list of 185 nominees — in English and Spanish-language categories, no less — is a step in the right direction.