Hip-hop mogul Russel Simmons can add another award to his impressive wall of social justice fame: the GLAAD Excellence in Media Award.
For 25 years, GLAAD (Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) has honored entertainers and media executives whose commitment to LGBTQ equality makes a significant impact on popular culture.
Simmons is known for his philanthropic initiatives: He's the chairman and co-founder of Rush Philanthropic Arts Foundation, co-chairman of the Hip-Hop Summit Action Network, an active supporter of The Doe Fund and PETA (a dedicated vegan to boot) and a donor and event attendee for dozens of respected nonprofits. Goodwill clearly runs in the family. Amongst the Simmons activists are Russell's nieces, Angela and Vanessa, who are active with the Children's Miracle Network Hospitals.
In a 2009 Huffington Post article, Simmons expressed disappointment in Prop 8 campaigns writing, "Simply, civil rights for all is about being connected as humans, united, tolerant, loving and brave."
He calls marriage equality a question of if, not when, adding, "I ask those who feel that giving freedom to others somehow binds you, to please take a good look at what you are standing behind. It is only through opening your hearts will you be able to see that by promoting freedom for all, you are unchaining yourself. I guess I'm an optimist. I have faith in people and our government ultimately to do the right thing."
Bravo, Mr. Simmons, for taking a public stand.
Three separate GLAAD awards events will be held in NYC, L.A. and San Francisco. Simmons will receive his award at the New York event on March 19 at the Marriot Marquis in Times Square. Other GLAAD honorees this year include Ricky Martin, Kristin Chenoweth and NBC exec Robert Greenblatt; confirmed attendees include Colin Farrell, Tina Fey and Jane Velez-Mitchell.