Human Rights Campaign to Honor Prolific Entertainers & Cultural Leaders Shonda Rhimes, Lena Waithe & Matt Bomer for Dedication to LGBTQ+ Community at National Dinner

by Aryn Fields

he Human Rights Campaign announced today its honorees for its annual National Dinner. The honorees include world-famous producers, actors and entertainers whose work spotlights the fight for civil rights and social justice. The star-studded event will be held on Saturday, October 14 at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, DC.

The 2023 honorees include:

  • Prolific and award-winning television writer and producer, Shonda Rhimes, will be honored with the National Equality Award, which recognizes the outstanding efforts of those who use their voice to publicly stand up for the LGBTQ+ community.
  • Emmy-winning actor, writer and producer, Lena Waithe, will be honored with the Visibility Award, which recognizes LGBTQ+ leaders that represent living openly and authentically in all facets of her life.
  • Matt Bomer, Golden Globe-winning television and film actor, will be honored with the Impact Award, which recognizes members of the LGBTQ+ community that are dedicated to championing and advocating for queer issues in every corner of their life.

In addition, the four transgender kids and teenagers, Grayson McFerrin, Libby Gonzales, Hobbes Chukumba, and Daniel Trujillo, who organized Trans Youth Prom will receive a special recognition at the National Dinner for their roles as undeniable forces for transgender justice in their communities and on the national stage.

HRC also announced a new event as part of the weekend—the Equality Convention, which will take place the night before the dinner, Friday, October 13, 2023, in Washington, D.C. The convention will showcase the power of the LGBTQ+ equality movement, feature influential political and cultural voices, and bring together volunteer and movement leaders from across the country to talk about the path ahead.

This weekend will be about convening bold, dynamic and powerful voices in a pivotal time for the LGBTQ+ movement—Shonda, Lena and Matt are pioneers in their field and deserve to be celebrated for the immeasurable contributions they’ve made to the LGBTQ+ community. And with next generation leaders like Libby, Grayson, Daniel and Hobbes, I know our future is brighter than ever. The National Dinner is a time to bask in the beauty of what it means to be queer, but also to clearly communicate to our community, and the world, how we must intentionally show up for the year ahead of us. The LGBTQ+ community is living in a state of emergency—full stop. It is up to all of us to combat this hate and show anti-LGBTQ+ extremists the growing power of our community—and in 2024, the unharnessed power of the LGBTQ+ vote.

Kelley Robinson, Human Rights Campaign President

In June, HRC officially declared a state of emergency for LGBTQ+ people in the United States for the first time in its more than 40-year history. The declaration followed an unprecedented and dangerous spike in anti-LGBTQ+ legislative assaults sweeping state houses—more than 525 bills were introduced in 41 states just in 2023. The sharp rise in anti-LGBTQ+ measures has spawned a dizzying patchwork of discriminatory state laws that have created increasingly hostile and dangerous environments for LGBTQ+ people.

Yet in the face of all this hate, the community has also seen unmatched support from advocates, activists, and artists–like the 2023 HRC honorees–who use their platforms to speak up for a world where everyone is free–without exception.

“I am honored to be receiving this award from an organization that does so much to combat oppression, exclusion and hate,” said Shonda Rhimes. “I am proud to be an ally in this fight.”

“Centering the intersection of queerness and Blackness has been at the forefront of my work and drives me to continue to share Black queer stories for myself, my community and the world,” said Lena Waithe. “I am unapologetically Black, queer and a woman—telling intersectional stories that spotlight our authentic experiences is a crucial path towards a future where equal protection and equal opportunity is not a privilege, but a guarantee.”

“I am honored to be receiving the Impact Award from the Human Rights Campaign,” said Matt Bomer. “LGBTQ+ people are facing an all-out-assault on our basic rights—putting us in harm's way and trying to push us out of the public eye. But we won’t go back. There is still so much more to be done to reach equality for the LGBTQ+ community and I’m so grateful to have HRC as a partner in this advocacy work.”

For media interested in attending the dinner, please RSVP here.

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