GLAAD Media Awards: Songwriter Justin Tranter Raises $123K With Auction for Studio Sessions

Justin Tranter speaks on stage at the 28th Annual GLAAD Media Awards at The Hilton Midtown on May 6, 2017 in New York City.
Jason Kempin/Getty Images for GLAAD

Justin Tranter speaks on stage at the 28th Annual GLAAD Media Awards at The Hilton Midtown on May 6, 2017 in New York City. 

As part of Saturday’s (May 6) GLAAD Media Awards in New York, hit songwriter Justin Tranter auctioned off a writing and recording session. Tranter, a GLAAD board member, has penned hits for Justin Bieber, Selena Gomez and Britney Spears. In fact, the songwriter is responsible for co-writes of four hits on the latest Hot 100 chart: Julia Michaels' “Issues” (no. 14), Maroon 5’s “Cold” (no. 28), Imagine Dragons' “Believer” (no. 37) and Linkin Park’s “Heavy” (no. 54).

“We will write a song, we will record the song,” announced Tranter. “If you want to sing it -- you can sing it. If you want me to sing it, I’ll sing it. You will leave with the song fully produced.”

The bidding war went on for over 10 minutes, capping at $30,000. But rather than just doing one, Tranter offered to do a session with both top bidders, earning GLAAD $60,000. Tranter auctioned off the same opportunity at the GLAAD Media Awards in L.A. on April 1, where three top bidders each paid $21,000 for the session. In total, Tranter raised $123,000 for the LGBTQ organization. The individual sessions each raised more than any other item up for auction, including an African safari adventure and a trip to Berlin.

“I did not expect to raise this much money,” Tranter said. “We made more than the trips. It goes to show that for LGBTQ people and gender non-conforming people, making art is worth something.”

“Justin Tranter is so interesting because he’s one of the youngest people on our board,” said GLAAD’s president and CEO, Sarah Kate Ellis. “He identifies as queer and he’s really bringing in the perspective of the next generation.”

The auction was followed by an electrifying performance by DNCE -- who performed two songs co-written by Tranter: “Cake by the Ocean” and “Kissing Strangers.”

The star-studded event was hosted by Ross Mathews and featured appearances by Rosie O’Donnell, Andrew Rannells, Zachary Quinto and CNN new anchor Don Lemon. Trevor Noah was on hand to accept an award for The Daily’s Show With Trevor Noah’s segment with trans activist Angelica Ross. Whoopi Goldberg, executive producer of Strut, was presented the award for outstanding reality program alongside the cast of the Oxygen show, which follows a group of models signed to Slay Model Management, an exclusively transgender modeling agency. Southwest of Salem: The Story of the San Antonio Four received the award for outstanding documentary.

The highest honors of the evening, the excellence in media award and the Vito Russo award, were presented to Debra Messing and Billy Porter, respectively.

“I’m very emotional,” Debra Messing said. When Vice President Biden said to Meet the Press that Will and Grace had done more to educate the country about LGBT issues than anything else -- besides the birth of my son, that was the proudest moment of my life. And I think tonight’s the third.”

Gay Pride Month 2017