The José Esteban Muñoz Award was created to honor an LGBTQ community leader or activist for their advocacy and promotion of LGBTQ Studies. José Esteban Muñoz was a pioneer in LGBTQ studies. He was the author and editor of several books that grappled with issues of race, gender, and sexuality including Cruising Utopia: The Politics and Performance of Queer Futurity and Disidentifications: Queers of Color and the Performance of Politics. He was also a professor and former Chair of the Department of Performance Studies at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. He passed away in December 2013.

See below for Muñoz Award-winner bios and event recordings 

Past Award Winners

  • 2021: Carmelita Tropicana
  • 2020: CANCELLED due to COVID - 19
  • 2019: Cheryl Dunye
  • 2018: Patrisse-Khan Cullors
  • 2017: Frenchie Davis, Nathan Lee Graham, & Wilson Cruz
  • 2016: Jose Antonio Vargas
  • 2015: Janet Mock

Winner Bios and Event Recordings

Cheryl Dunye (2019)

Headshot of CLAGS Muñoz awardee 2019, Cheryl Dunye.

Cheryl Dunye emerged as part of the “queer new wave” of young filmmakers of the 1990s, paving the way for the many black women and LGBTQ directors working today. Dunye has made over 15 films, including The Watermelon Woman, HBO’s Stranger Inside, The Owls, and My Baby’s Daddy.

At this event, Dunye receives the annual Jose Munoz Award, given to LGBTQ activists. She speaks with Shawn(ta) Smith-Cruz, co-coordinator at the Lesbian Herstory Archives, assistant professor at The Graduate Center, and co-chair of the Board of Directors of CLAGS: The Center for LGBTQ Studies. Presented on September 23, 2019 with The Graduate Center Public Programs.

Patrisse Cullors (2018)

Headshot of CLAGS Muñoz awardee 2018, Patrisse Cullors.

At the age of 16, Cullors discovered her passion for helping young queer women facing the challenges of poverty, prejudice, and violence. In 2013, she co-founded the #BlackLivesMatter movement, which has grown into an international organization fighting anti-Black racism. She is the co-author of the best seller When They Call You a Terrorist: A Black Lives Matter Memoir

Cullors came to the Graduate Center on June 12, 2018 for a Pride Month conversation with Justin T. Brown (Ph.D. 17′), executive director of CLAGS. At the event, Cullors received the annual José Muñoz Award.