If you are on Twitter and follow @glaad, then you know that social media was a huge part of the GLAAD Media Awards this year. Almost every memorable moment was captured on Twitter, thanks to Allison Palmer, director of digital initiatives at GLAAD. Allison was responsible for executing the event's social communications via the @glaad Twitter account. There wasn't a red carpet or show moment that Allison missed. One of her most popular tweets of the night was when Tina Fey was in the hot seat with Andy Cohen. This tweet says it all:
At the time this post was written, this tweet was re-tweeted over 91 times, making it one popular tweet!
Another nod should be given to Justin Ward, media field strategist for GLAAD, who was on Twitter the day before the event drumming up excitement in the Twittersphere. Much of his attention went to @nikinik93, or Bianca "Nikki" Peet outside the Twitter world. Nikki Peet is a high school student from Corpus Cristi, Texas, who fought her school for its first-ever gay-straight alliance. Nikki worked with Change.org to create a petition for her school to allow her to create a gay-straight alliance. After receiving 55,000 signatures, assistance from the American Civil Liberties Union, and help from GLAAD, Nikki won her case and now runs her school's gay-straight alliance.
To give non-attendees a chance to participate in the event, GLAAD used Twitter as a means to deliver show moments to the broader online community. By creating the hashtag #glaadawards, tweeters were able to follow along with the event. In fact, so many people were tweeting with #glaadawards that, according to Allison, whom I had the pleasure of meeting at the awards show, the hashtag became a trending topic in the New York region.
In addition, GLAAD set up a live video stream via Ustream to broadcast both the red carpet and award show on the Internet so more people could participate in the show. Sadly, it appears from the comments on the video page that the camera may not have been close enough for people to see what was happening. I was not able to view the live video stream so I can't comment on this. However, very few LGBT events have been leveraging Ustream so I applaud GLAAD for the attempt to broadcast the show to the online community. Had I not had the chance to attend the event, I would have watched it from my living room, which I plan to do for the award shows in San Francisco and Los Angeles.
Reflecting on #SpiritDay
While there were many influential people and movements referenced throughout the two hour program, one of the highlights for me was when the president of GLAAD, Jarrett Barrios, took a few minutes to reflect on Spirit Day. Spirit Day is a grassroots social media campaign started by high school student Brittany McMillan last year. This is a great example of the power of the media, and the importance of an organization like GLAAD in bringing stories forward that can promote change.
The campaign originally began as a simple Facebook page created by Brittany to invite her friends and peers at her high school to wear purple on October 20, 2010 to remember and honor the LGBT youth who had taken their own lives. GLAAD got hold of the campaign and helped Brittany get her message out to a larger audience. By soliciting the help from such stars as Ricky Martin and Glee's Jenna Ushkowitz, GLAAD was able to send the message of Spirit Day to thousands across the world. Knowing that simply changing your Twitter or Facebook profile pictures to purple or tweeting with hashtag #spiritday wouldn't be enough, GLAAD also worked with television networks to get the message of Spirit Day onto major network shows including Ellen, CNN, and The View. Granted, Spirit Day does not bring immediate equality, but it shows the world that there are millions who support LGBT equality and who were, and are, affected by tragic loss of LGBT youth to suicide.
Here's a video of Jarret Barrios speaking about Spirit Day at the GLAAD Media Awards in New York City on March 19, 2011. I apologize now for the video's choppiness and being so far away but the audio is crystal clear.
To participate in Spirit Day, which is officially October 20th, simply change your profile picture on Facebook and Twitter to purple and wear purple. Encourage your friends and family to participate as well. Let's work together to show the world that we are ready for change.
To connect with GLAAD, feel free to visit them on any of the following platforms: