Robert De Niro is the latest LGBT ally to be honored by the GLAAD Media Awards for his longtime commitment to promoting equality and acceptance.
At the New York ceremony on May 14, the Oscar winner will receive the Excellence in Media Award. Last year, the honor went to Kelly Ripa.
In 2014, De Niro opened up about his relationship with his gay father in the HBO documentary, Remembering the Artist: Robert De Niro, Sr. In the film, the actor recounted his father’s struggle with acceptance and to live an authentic life.
While his father was out, it was not common knowledge. Yet, De Niro told Out magazine he felt it was important to share his father’s story. “I felt obligated,” he said. “It was my responsibility to make a documentary about him. I was always planning on doing it.”
In addition to the documentary, De Niro also produced and starred in Flawless, a 1999 film about a man and his relationship with a transgender woman. He also portrayed a gay character in Stardust.
When asked about why he hasn’t done more projects with queer themes like his on-screen counterpart, Al Pacino, De Niro told Out it was something that never happened for him. “If they had been offered to me by a good director, that’s something I would have considered,” he said.
However, off screen, De Niro has been at the forefront of LGBT inclusion in film thanks to the Tribeca Film Festival, which he co-founded in 2002. This year is no different with films documenting the real-life story of a gay gang in Washington, D.C. and a ripped-from-the-headlines drama about the rise of a gay porn actor starring James Franco and Keegan Allen.
“Through his work honoring the memory of his openly gay father, Robert De Niro has not only sent a message of acceptance to LGBT people, but also educated audiences of the harms of anti-LGBT prejudice and discrimination,” said GLAAD President & CEO Sarah Kate Ellis. “He is a tireless advocate who has helped bring to the world LGBT storylines that spark dialogue, build support, and encourage understanding.”
The New York ceremony follows the Los Angeles event, which honored Ruby Rose, Demi Lovato, and Caitlyn Jenner, among others.