Kerry Washington has slammed the Trump administration for the way it has demonized and targeted the LGBTQ community.
In a fiery speech at the 2017 GLSEN Respect Awards, where she received the Inspiration Award, Washington said LGBTQ people were “living through a horrific dream” with Trump as president.
“It is a communal nightmare,” she said. “The flames of terror and exclusion are being ignited by some of our most powerful leaders. These people who have been entrusted with the protection of our rights, the rights of all of us, the rights of we the people, have chosen instead to traffic in hate.
“We’ve gone from a White House lit in all the colors of pride to a White House that literally preaches division and discrimination,” Washington continued. “And so sometimes I worry because the stakes are high and fear is rampant.”
However, Washington said there was still hope for the future, and it rested with the country’s youth. She told attendees to “make sure we don’t get in the way, but that we help them clear the way.”
“You are our truest leaders,” Washington said to the GLSEN student hosts in attendance, who have helped effect change for LGBTQ students in their communities. “You point us out of this nightmare and towards that more perfect union. And with your leadership, tonight more than ever before, I know that we will get there.”
The GLSEN Respect Awards are an annual ceremony dedicated to showcasing the work of students, educators, individuals and corporations who have significantly impacted the lives of LGBTQ youth. It’s part of GLSEN’s wider remit of ensuring safe and affirming educational experiences for LGBTQ students.
Other award winners included DC Entertainment, Zendaya, and Bruce Bozzi.
In his speech, Bozzi — step-father of actress Billie Lourd and executive vice president of the Palm Restaurant Group — spoke of the challenges he faced as a gay youth.
“When you’re gay, you never forget the first time a group of kids calls you ‘faggot,’” he said, adding, “Nor the shame that travels so deep to your core in lightning speed, piercing your heart when all you want to do is to run. Not only from them but worse, from yourself.
“This pain taught me how to survive, see the ugly face of cruelty, eventually helping me become the man I am today,” Bozzi continued. “Proud to be a gay man who embodies a river of empathy for others given the gift of sensitivity. That boy on the bus will always sit next to me, and we’re linked arm and arm. But now I protect him and our strength stands up for what is right, to make a difference every day.”
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