The Trevor Project hosted its 2018 TrevorLIVE Los Angeles gala Sunday night, Dec. 2, at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in a star-studded event that raised over $1.5 million.
The event was hosted by popular YouTuber Eugene Lee Yang, a writer, director, actor and video producer.
“It is an absolute privilege to support The Trevor Project, the world’s largest suicide prevention and crisis intervention organization for LGBTQ young people,” Yang said in his opening remarks. “Tonight, we are honoring some truly awe-inspiring trailblazers for the LGBTQ community.”
The focal point for the evening, the Hero Award, was presented to Emmy, Golden Globe and Peabody award-winning screenwriter, producer and director Ryan Murphy and the cast of POSE. Writer and transgender rights activist Janet Mock presented the award.
“When I was 19, in Indiana, I myself called a suicide hotline. Overwhelmed by the AIDS crisis, by the fact that I was the only ‘out’ person in my friend group, the only ‘out’ person I knew at the time, and alienated from my family, I felt profound despair. I made a call one late night in November. I made a connection, got some hope, and carried on. It’s powerful life saving work this organization does. In my roundabout way, I know this first hand,” Murphy said in his powerful acceptance speech.
Murphy wondered why more wasn’t being done to target those who caused the problem. “The homophobes, the trans naysayers, and the small restricted and dangerous minds who are causing so many young people to needlessly hate and doubt themselves in our country when what they should be receiving from this country is love and support and understanding. Weren’t we as a nation established on the idea of equality, not appalling and illegal discrimination?” Murphy said.
He continued: “In 2020, I’m going to create and fund, with corporate sponsorship, a multi million dollar organization that targets anti LGBTQ candidates running for office. Senate and congressional candidates who think they can get votes hurting and discriminating against us — well, we can get votes too. We are going to send a message which says you cannot make discrimination against us a political virtue anymore. You can’t keep killing our vulnerable young people by promoting and nationalizing your rural, close-minded anti-constitutional viewpoints.”
“It’s a simple and very strong idea, I think. Let’s help the kids by showing the small-minded the door. There is actually a way to do this. And I want to do it,” he continued. “It was the midterms this year that gave me home. One after one, anti-LGBTQ candidates who made hate speech and ideology part of their legacy fell, disgraced and eliminated by candidates (who were largely boosted by victory by young and female voters, by the way.) The number was astounding to me — over 20 anti-LGBTQ right wing politicians and their horrifying views were gone in a day.
“Dana Rohrabacher, Mia Love, Jason Lewis, Pete Sessions—bigots, all of them,” he continued. “And all replaced by allies, new politicians who won’t spread harmful and wrong rhetoric that can lead a young LGBTQ person to actually believe they are not good enough or worthy enough to stay on this earth anymore.”
The Trevor Project’s CEO & Executive Director Amit Paley noted how many LGBT had been helped.
“There are people in this room who’ve told me that they wouldn’t be here today if it weren’t for this organization, and I know there are others who wish they had known about Trevor in their darkest moments,” Paley said. “That is why we are here today. To make sure that every young person, regardless of their sexual orientation, gender identity, race, religion, or immigration status, knows that The Trevor Project is here for them whenever they need us.”
Other honorees included actress and singer Amandla Stenberg who accepted the Youth Innovator Award. “Often times who we are is postulated in the context of pain, shame, and tragedy and although that may be a facet of our experiences I do not feel that it is by any means the totality of them or how I experience being gay,” they said. “I find that understanding so limiting and inaccurate when I know that if anything we are the opposite; we are joy and light. We are the sacred unraveling of damaging fabrications who reveal the power of truth through love. We are unapologetic expressions of divinity and exuberance.”
Presenting sponsor AT&T was honored with the 20/20 Visionary Award, presented by actor, singer, director and photographer Jussie Smollett and accepted by AT&T Mobility & Entertainment President David Christopher.