GLSEN held its annual Respect Awards at Cipriani in Manhattan last night, which honored actress Carla Gugino, activists Ann Clark and Ryan Pedlow, Roland Park Elementary/Middle School and First Data. The evening featured opening remarks by Dr. Jill Biden (who still teaches!) and guests Ariana DeBose, Carmen Carrera, Elliort Sailors, Chely Blitzer-Wright, Kyle Farmery, Andrew Morrison, Agnes “Peppermint” Moore, Jeffrey Marsh, 22nd Secretary of the Army Eric Fanning, and former Secretary of Education John King. Also honored was beloved GLSEN executive director Eliza Byard, who received a surprise tribute from colleagues and friends for her 15 years at the nonprofit. The GLSEN Respect Awards, introduced in 2004 and held annually in Los Angeles and New York, showcase the work of students, educators, individuals and corporations who serve as exemplary role models and have made a significant impact on the lives of LGBTQ youth.
Zachary Quinto, a former GLSEN Champion honoree himself, spoke of his friend Gugino who was honored with the Inspiration Award. “Her true passion is inspiring others to take action, especially when it comes to helping LGBTQ youth,” Quinto remarked. “Carla recently worked with GLSEN on the recent 100 Days of Kindness campaign and on the day of silence, she released a silent video to her many followers, encouraging her many followers to donate to GLSEN. She is a connector.” The Entourage and Spy Kids actress gave the final remarks of the evening with an empowering speech. “We spend an inordinate amount of time as a society focused on fear and hate. If we spent an equal amount of time celebrating and safeguarding love, just imagine what we’d accomplish,” she said. “I really love that GLSEN rhymes with listen, because the key to life is to listen and connect and love.” Amen.