LOS ANGELES - One of America's most powerful organizations held its annual awards night here.
GLAAD, which stands for Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, recognizes fair, accurate and inclusive representations of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender, or the LGBT community.
Some of its prominent honorees and organizers were Filipinos.
The hit television show "Pretty Little Liars" was nominated for best drama series, and one of its stars is Shay Mitchell, whose mom is Filipina. Mitchell is also Lea Salonga's niece.
Mitchell said her portrayal of a gay teen on TV has allowed her to connect with teenagers all over the world who are going through the same challenges as her character, Emily.
"I've gotten to speak to so many amazing young people about their feelings on the show and what they've been going through. Just hearing that my character has really helped them deal with their own issues and come out, that's been absolutely amazing," she said.
"Glee" was a co-winner in best comedy series together with "Modern Family."
Filipino-American Darren Criss's on-screen partnership with Chris Colfer on "Glee" has been praised for its realistic and positive depiction of a gay relationship.
In 2008, Filipino-American actor Alec Mapa was also honored by GLAAD.
LGBT in PH movies, TV shows
Filipino-American fashion designer and gay rights advocate Alexis Monsanto said GLAAD’s active role in pushing for equality and fairness in how the LGBT roles are portrayed in Hollywood is to be commended.
He hopes to spread GLAAD’s activism in the Philippines.
While growing up, Monsanto said he was frequently heartbroken by the portrayal of the LGBT community in Philippine movies and TV shows.
"I grew up in the time of Roderick Paulate, Jon Santos. Puro lang katatawanan at comedic roles na very demeaning," Monsanto said.
He said he wants his kababayans back home to have a better view of gays and their lifestyle with media's help.
"We're just normal. I want us to be portrayed as successful businessmen, lawyers, doctors or congressman - you could be gay. Just like here, with 'Modern Family,' with 'Glee,’" he added
At GLAAD’s big night, Monsanto was joined by a Filipino hair and make-up team who glammed-up the celebrities.
Many Hollywood stars came to the event including the cast of "Modern Family," Kirsten Dunst, and "Glee" star Mike O'Malley, who talked about his role on the show as the father of a gay teenager.
"I think it's really great to be able to participate in a role that positively reinforces that the most important thing that we do as a parent is to love our kids," O’ Malley said.
The stars praised GLAAD for making the entertainment industry accountable for their portrayal of the LGBT community in TV and films.
"I had a gay friend, when we were going through elementary school, kids used to pick on him for being different and I thought it was really unfair and that they shouldn't do that because he was just a normal kid like everybody else. It hurt him, and now growing up, he's trying to get his confidence back," said Ariel Winter, a star from “Modern Family.”
The group also gives media training and assistance whenever a member of the LGBT community is in need.
The Filipino LGBT members of GLAAD said they want to help build a powerful organization like GLAAD in the Philippines to ensure a better representation of their community in Filipino films and TV shows.