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Matthew Morrison was literally speechless when honored at the GLSEN Respect Awards on Monday night.
The Finding Neverland star, who was given the Inspiration Award for his portrayal of exemplary educator Will Schuster on Fox’s Glee, was put on vocal rest for a week due to a bout with bronchitis.
Nevertheless, wife Renee Morrison accompanied him onstage at New York City’s Cipriani 42nd Street and read his speech aloud. The actor held up a dry-erase board with the joke, “This is my GLSEN day of silence,” referencing the organization’s annual protest for those who are forced to remain mum due to bullying.
The honoree’s speech noted that Morrison has had a taste of LGBT-targeted bullying. “Often, there’s a misconception that if someone studies the arts or is into musical theatre, that they are gay, as if being gay is a negative,” said Matthew via Renee, recounting how a journalist asked him about the common misperception. “My response? I love gay people, so I’m not going to be insulted or angry by being called gay. As a straight man standing up for the LGBT community, I feel a sense of responsibility to make sure that people know that being gay is not a negative.”
Passionate about arts education and LGBT rights, Morrison continued, “Glee became a source of hope, inspiration and release for so many affected audiences dealing with these very issues, … [and] allowed some kids to walk a little taller and prouder and be more confident in themselves. As an actor, I’ve never been more proud.” He dedicated the award “to the kids out there everywhere who have stood up to bullying and who are not just afraid to be themselves, but proud to be themselves.”
Other honorees of the evening included architect and philanthropist Jon Stryker, teacher Desiree Raught and Johnson & Johnson.
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