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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Singer Ricky Martin and Broadway singer and actress Kristin Chenoweth are being honored for their efforts to increase understanding of America's gay and lesbian community, the campaign group GLAAD said on Wednesday.
Martin, the Latin singer who came out as gay last year, will be given GLAAD's Vito Russo Award at a ceremony in March. The award is given annually to an openly gay, lesbian, transgender or bisexual professional who is deemed to have made a significant difference in promoting equal rights for the community.
"Ricky coming out was a game changer for many gay and transgender Latino children, who for too long, did not have many out gay people to look up to," said Jarrett Barrios, president of the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation(GLAAD), the nation's leading organization in promoting fair and accurate portrayals of gay people in the media.
Chenoweth, the original star of the stage musical "Wicked" and a guest star on TV show "Glee", will be presented with the Vanguard Award which is given annually to those who increase the visibility and understanding of the LGBT community.
Chenoweth was singled out for defending her gay Broadway co-star Sean Hayes in the musical "Promises, Promises" against comments in a 2010 Newsweek article which argued that openly gay actors were unconvincing in straight roles.
"When allies like Kristin take such powerful stands against anti-gay sentiments in the media, it sends an important message of equality," Barrios said in a statement,
Chenoweth said in Twitter message on Wednesday that she was "proud to be honored by GLAAD".
The honors to Chenoweth and Martin will be handed out at the GLAAD Media Awards in New York and Los Angeles, which recognize the best portrayals of the LGBT community on film, television, radio, music, newspapers and blogs.
Reporting by Jill Serjeant, editing By Christine Kearney