Cynthia Nixon and television presenters Rachel Maddow and Joy Behar were honoured on Saturday night at the 21st GLAAD media awards in New York.

Behar won the top honour, the Excellence in Media award, for the Joy Behar Show, which GLAAD said had shown a “strong commitment” to educating the public about the lives of gay and trans people.

Accepting the award from journalist Meredith Vieira, Behar thanked the gay community for supporting her as an up-and-coming comedian.

Sex and the City actress Cynthia Nixon, who is a lesbian, won the Vito Russo Award for her campaigning for equal marriage and adoption rights.

Nixon said in her acceptance speech: “Coming out wasn’t hard in 2004. But if it had been 1994? What would I have done? I’ll never know. Only ten years difference and a whole different universe.

“Coming out wasn’t difficult for me because of the work of many people in this room and because of the vision, tenacity and sacrifice of people like Vito Russo, who are no longer with us, but because of whom there is a room – a room that has all of us in it.”

MSNBC presenter Rachel Maddow was honoured for her programme on Uganda’s anti-homosexuality law, titled Uganda Be Kidding Me, while a Special Recognition Award was presented to Broadway musical Hair. The award was accepted by openly gay cast member Gavin Creel and the cast of Hair performed to close the show.

CNN’s American Morning producer Beth Marengo and 11-year-old Will Phillips accepted for the Outstanding TV Journalism Segment, ‘Why Will Won’t Pledge Allegiance’, about Will’s refusal to pledge allegiance to the flag until gays and lesbians have complete equality.

In a rousing speech that elicited a standing ovation, Will said: “I know there are certain political restraints that make action difficult, however lack of equality for some is lack of equality for all and I think its time for us all to get equal.”

Little Ashes won the award for Limited Release Movie, while Brothers and Sisters was honoured as the best television drama series.

Another two ceremonies will be held later this year to hand out additional awards.

* Excellence in Media Award: Joy Behar
* Vito Russo Award: Cynthia Nixon
* Special Recognition Award: Hair

* Outstanding Film-Limited Release: Little Ashes
* Outstanding Drama Series: Brothers & Sisters
* Outstanding Individual Episode: “Pawnee Zoo” Parks and Recreation
* Outstanding TV Movie or Mini-Series: Prayers for Bobby
* Outstanding Daily Drama: One Life to Live
* Outstanding Talk Show Episode: “Ellen DeGeneres and Her Wife, Portia de Rossi” The Oprah Winfrey Show
* Outstanding TV Journalism Segment: “Why Will Won’t Pledge Allegiance” American Morning
* Outstanding TV Journalism – Newsmagazine: “Uganda Be Kidding Me” (series) The Rachel Maddow Show
* Outstanding Newspaper Article: “Kept From a Dying Partner’s Bedside” by Tara Parker-Pope
* Outstanding Newspaper Columnist: Frank Rich
* Outstanding Newspaper Overall Coverage: The New York Times
* Outstanding Magazine Article: “Coming Out in Middle School” by Benoit Denizet-Lewis
* Outstanding Magazine Overall Coverage: The Advocate
* Outstanding Digital Journalism Article: TIE: “‘We Love You, This Won’t Change a Thing'” by John Buccigross and “Why Can’t You Just Butch Up? Gay Men, Effeminacy, and Our War with Ourselves” by Brent Hartinger
* Outstanding Comic Book: Detective Comics by Greg Rucka
* Outstanding New York Theater: Broadway & Off–Broadway: A Boy and His Soul by Colman Domingo
* Outstanding New York Theater: Off–Off Broadway: She Like Girls by Chisa Hutchinson