On Friday (May 4), the GLAAD Media Awards awarded three LGBTQ change makers with the 2018 Rising Star Awards for their work in advocacy and changing our culture at the Rising Stars Luncheon in New York. The event was hosted by Younger actor, activist and author Nico Tortorella.
The three recipients were: Priscila (Pea) Alegria Nunez, a non-binary cinematographer and documentarian; Kosoko Jackson, an author and advocate for diversity within YA literature; and Akila Prayaga, a senior at Cornell University who has helped lead several LGBTQ organizations and events like Grace Hopper and Out for Undergrad. Each of the recipients will receive a grant from GLAAD to help with their continued advocacy for the LGBTQ community.
“Through their powerful initiatives to advance LGBTQ acceptance and visibility, these young activists are going to change the world,” said GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis. “We are a living in at a time when LGBTQ acceptance is eroding, but by empowering and supporting these changemakers, we are working to ensure a brighter future.”
Billboard Pride asked each of the recipients about their favorite music stars using their platform to advocate for and provide visibility to the LGBTQ community. Here’s what they had to say:
Akila Prayaga: “Hayley Kiyoko is an artist that I really love and is very visibly queer. She’s a huge inspiration for me. From the early start of her career, she started creating videos with queer female love interests and it was amazing to finally see my type of representation in music. Nothing beats the feeling of listening to a song and being able to relate to the message of it. She’s getting more popular and continues to be out and proud, launching more music and more videos that are relatable to her queer fans.”
Kosoko Jackson: “We cannot talk about LGBTQ visibility without paying homage to Big Freedia. From lending her voice to bops like Nice for What, Formation, & several RuPaul songs, Big Freedia represents the beautiful complexity of southern Black culture, which often is disregarded as being ‘vulgar’ or ‘lesser than.’ She is unapologetically queer, unapologetically black & is the embodiment of living your truth while paying the haters no mind.”
Pea Alegria Nunez: “Janelle Monáe! She’s such a multi-hyphenated individual, who is not afraid to bend the made-up rules of this society with her exquisite music and lyrics and outstanding performances, she makes me feel fully liberated. Free of labels, of fears. I can’t wait to see her live for her Dirty Computer tour!”