Gay media group honors Chaz Bono, Betty White

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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Media watchdog the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation brought out some big names in Hollywood over the weekend including American sweetheart Betty White to honor movies, TV shows and performers.

At the annual GLAAD Media Awards on Saturday night, the group gave one honorary trophy to transgender activist and celebrity Chaz Bono, the child of superstar Cher and Sonny Bono, for promoting equal rights in the media. The makers of documentary “Becoming Chaz,” Randy Barbato and Fenton Bailey, earned another trophy for their film about his transformation.

The documentary had its premiere at last year’s Sundance Film Festival and aired on the OWN network, and Bono went on to compete in TV ballroom contest “Dancing With the Stars,” sparking controversy among some groups and support from others.

“Chaz has the most courage of almost anyone I know,” Cher said onstage when presenting the trophy to her son.

Bono noted that some 15 years ago, when he was still Chastity, he had worked for GLAAD as an activist, and he reflected on how times had changed on TV since the late 1990s when shows such as “Will & Grace” first went on air and performers like Ellen DeGeneres came out in public.

In earlier decades, “Will & Grace” might never have made it to TV and DeGeneres could have faded from stardom. But the primetime sitcom that featured gay lead characters became a hit, and DeGeneres emerged as a daytime talk show darling.

“We really, really have come a long way,” Bono said. “I’ve seen lots of people get this award … I never, ever thought it would be me.”

Elsewhere, Betty White earned among the biggest laughs from the crowd when talking about her TV show “Hot in Cleveland,” a comedy in which she, Jane Leeves, Wendie Malick and Valerie Bertinelli play four women living in that midwestern U.S. city.

“You’d swear we are all gay because we adore each other” so much, White said onstage, flanked by Malick and Leeves.

“Hot in Cleveland” shared an award for best individual television episode with “Drop Dead Diva.” The trophy for outstanding TV series was given to “Modern Family.”

Best wide-release movie went to “Beginners,” which earlier this year earned Christopher Plummer a supporting actor Oscar for his role as an elderly gay man who tells his son he’s gay.

Finally, “The Hunger Games” actor Josh Hutcherson was given a special honor for a person who has helped boost the visibility of lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender people in the media. Hutcherson is behind the Straight But Not Narrow media campaign aimed at educating young people about homophobia.

(Reporting By Bob Tourtellotte, editing by Christine Kearney)

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