GLSEN, the nation’s leading organization working to create safe and inclusive schools for LGBTQ students, usually hands out the honor at its annual New York Respect Awards gala in the spring, but the 2020 program has been shifted to a week of virtual fundraising events called Respect Everywhere.
Carver, who will appear with his twin brother Max in Matt Reeves’ “The Batman,” came out as gay in 2016 in an Instagram post.
“I always knew I wanted to do something with my life that might help young people in their relationship to shame,” Carver said in his acceptance speech posted on glsen.org. “I didn’t want spectacle. I just wanted to reveal this part of myself in a kind of way I wish I’d been able to share all those years ago in school as a simple wonderful fact of who I was. It was my hope that by writing this post and sharing why I’d arrived at the decision to come out professionally that some young person out there could feel the change that I felt was coming and had been coming and would be coming—the change we all hope for and work for and wait for in our lives as LGBTQ folks.”
While Carver said he grew up in a supportive and accepting family, he said school presented unspoken issues.
“There was just this abiding sense that school wasn’t safe or more than anything, if I let my guard down and if I fully relaxed into a state of belonging that something swift and terrible would come and find me,” he said. “And I recognize now that that thing I was so afraid of, the thing I was sort of running from and trying to manage, was my own shame.”
He went on to say, “LGBTQ kids really suffer from the shaming they interject on the internet, often at school and sadly sometimes at home and it affects them for the rest of their lives. But I believe LGBTQ people are resilient and in some ways particularly special. I think we seem inherently capable at thinking compassionately, acting courageously, working creatively and living in community. But those qualities, those essential qualities can really only emerge in an affirmative, safe and encouraging environment.”
Several of Carver’s co-stars from the upcoming Netflix movie adaptation of Broadway’s “The Boys in the Band” presented him with the award, including Jim Parsons, Matt Bomer, Zachary Quinto, Andrew Rannells, Robin de Jesús, Tuc Watkins, Brian Hutchison and Michael Benjamin Washington.
“Throughout his entire career, Charlie Carver has used his platform to galvanize the LGBTQ community, especially the next generation,” Rannells said.
Later in the week, “The L Word: Generation Q” star Jennifer Beals will receive the Champion Award. Ilima Intermediate School’s Rainbow Royales GSA, the “Rainbow Royales” of Hawaii will be named GSA of the Year and Tray Robinson will honored as the Educator of the Year Award.