Cybill Shepherd Dedicates Trevor Project Award to Late Sister and LGBTQ Youth

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Cybill Shepherd

The actress received the honor Sunday from Jane Lynch at the annual TrevorLive Los Angeles Gala at the Beverly Hilton.

Upon receiving the Champions Award from the Trevor Project on Sunday night, The L Word and Moonlighting actress Cybill Shepherd wished one person in particular could witness the non-profit organization's continued efforts to support LGBTQ youth.

"My sister Gladys Terry Shepherd, she was a lesbian and she loved women her whole life," she told the audience. "But she could not feel safe coming out at the time."

The actress drew attention to the violence that has affected the LGBTQ community for decades and noted that the current youth have resources that could save their lives. Shepherd urged everyone in the Beverly Hilton's International Ballroom to be a voice of love and think about those they care for. 

"We have in our lives, people we would have liked to have saved," she said.

The gala, hosted by Zazie Beets and Sasheer Zamata, brought attention to the Trevor Project's work in preventing LGBTQ suicide and honored singer Hayley Kiyoko and the PwC Charitable Foundation, in addition to Shepherd.

The actress spoke to The Hollywood Reporter about her years of activism for the LGBTQ community and the importance of choosing one's own family. Shepherd said that queer people, especially youth, can find themselves in uncomfortable situations and noted how forms of entertainment and media help them find a place for themselves.

"I think the main thing is we show that different people can love different people," she told THR. "We want to nurture an atmosphere in which all young people can express whatever their feelings are, who they want to love. Sometimes, find an adopted family ... find people who love you."

Fellow L Word actress Jane Lynch presented Shepherd with her award and spoke to THR about how she feels media representation has "taken three steps back for five steps forward."

"Sometimes change happens very slowly, then all of a sudden it speeds up," she said. "What we need to do is keep telling stories. We keep normalizing ... we're all human beings."

Kiyoko, who took home the Youth Innovator Award, told THR that it's the next generation of LGBTQ youth that keeps her inspired and pushes her to be the idol she wished she could have seen during her childhood.

The singer said that she feared outing herself as lesbian growing up through supporting certain artists or going to pride events. Being presented her award, she told THR, means that she's on the right track. "[It means] that I'm truly loving myself and accepting myself for what I am," Kiyoko said. 

Highlighting successful and influential LGBTQ people and allies, like Shepherd and Kiyoko, gives those struggling with themselves and the next generation a feeling of hope, said Trevor Project founder Peggy Rajski. Not only does it show people that they are not alone, but it allows them to aspire to greater heights, she told THR.

"When somebody who is well-known is reaching through the television, through the screen to tell you you're okay, in a dark moment that makes all the difference in the world," said Rajski. 

Attendees at the gala included Heidi Klum, Debby Ryan, Alyson Stoner, Gigi Gorgeous and Lance Bass.