Octavia Spencer, Matt Bomer and Antoni Porowski Set for GLSEN's Reimagined Respect Awards

Octavia Spencer- Getty - H 2020
Rich Fury/Getty Images

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, GLSEN announced today its annual Los Angeles Respect Awards event has been reimagined as Respect Everywhere, a digital experience that will feature between LGBTQ+ talent and allies helping to tell the stories of students.

Celebrity directors (in alphabetical order) Kalen Allen, Matt Bomer, Rob Hardy, Joe Mantello, Antoni Porowski and Octavia Spencer will share stories in a series of short videos that will premiere Oct. 26 on GLSEN's website. The online event also marks the start of GLSEN’s 30th anniversary celebration to honor its three decades of work on behalf of safe and inclusive schools for LGBTQ+ students.

“We knew GLSEN’s 30th anniversary would begin in a world profoundly challenged by the COVID pandemic, the fight for racial justice, and a continued assault on hard-fought LGBTQ+ rights and gains for LGBTQ+ youth,” said GLSEN executive director Eliza Byard. “It was imperative to center a diverse group of LGBTQ+ student stories for this year’s Respect celebration. They will give you hope for the future and the energy to fight for the next thirty years.”

Allen, best known for his work on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, directs the story of E. Smith, GLSEN’s 2019 Student Advocate of the Year and Harvard freshman. Bomer directs the story of Austin Laufersweiler, a Georgia native who has taken his advocacy to the halls of Congress and the White House. Hardy (All American) directs the story of scholar, artist, athlete, aspiring educator, and bisexual, non-binary trans man, JP Grant. Mantello (The Boys in the Band) directs the story of Gabriel Ian DiCenzo, a Los Angeles high school senior. Porowski directs the story of queer Cambodian immigrant, Darid Prom, a first-year student at Swarthmore College, who at the age of 10 not speaking any English. Spencer directs the story of Jessica Chiriboga, a mixed-race lesbian, scholar, activist, a two-sport athlete and a quadruplet who found balance between Christian faith and sexual identity.

Said Spencer: “I was honored to meet Jessica Chiriboga and tell her story for GLSEN Respect Everywhere. Jessica is an exceptional young woman who struggled to reconcile her Christian faith with her sexual orientation, but in the process, she became a leader and activist making a difference in so many people’s lives.”