WASHINGTON — Last night, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ+) civil rights organization, brought together more than 2,500 LGBTQ+ advocates and activists from across the country for its annual National Dinner. Photos from the National Dinner can be found here.
This year’s event featured keynote remarks from President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden as well as other special guests including award-winning television writer and producer Shonda Rhimes, Emmy-winning actor, writer and producer Lena Waithe and Golden Globe-winning television and film actor Matt Bomer. In addition, the four transgender youth who organized Trans Youth Prom, Grayson McFerrin, Libby Gonzales, Hobbes Chukumba, and Daniel Trujillo, received special recognition for their efforts expanding trans visibility and justice across the country.
“I am here to tell you tonight: those extremists are scared. They are scared to hell that rooms like this exist, because in rooms like this, we know how to respond in an emergency, we know how to turn crisis into opportunity. It is our inheritance,” said Kelley Robinson, Human Rights Campaign President. “Our fight for equality shouldn’t require uniformity. My vision of equality inspires creativity. My equality embraces our diversity as our greatest strength.
“In this next chapter, we can’t settle for policies that simply add queer folks into the systems that exist and stir. We need to disrupt the systems that don’t work for us, and design ones that do.
“In this next chapter, we are fighting for freedom without exception. We are fighting for liberation without exception. We are fighting for joy—somebody say joy—without exception. That is the work of democracy.”
“I want all LGBTQ Americans to know the Biden-Harris Administration has your back,” said President Joe Biden. “I’m never going to stand by and watch families terrorized, doctors and nurses criminalized, or any child targeted for who they are. It’s who they are. And our entire administration will always stand with you against hate. Together, we’ll make even more progress.”
“Across the country in places like Texas and Florida and Alabama, LGBTQ+ individuals don’t have the freedom to be honest with their family or embrace their gender identity at work. They don’t have the freedom to walk down the halls of their school as their authentic self,” said First Lady Jill Biden. “While we celebrate this beautiful community tonight, let’s also remember how lucky we are and harden our resolve to advocate for those who are not. We look forward to a time when all people in all places can feel the freedom and joy that we feel here tonight. But until then, we will fight.”
Entertainment icons Shonda Rhimes, Lena Waithe and Matt Bomer were honored for their prolific work in LGBTQ+ advocacy. Rhimes received her award from actress Golda Rosheuvel, Waithe received her award from actress and director Debbie Allen, and Bomer received his award from actor Jonathan Bailey.
View video of Shonda Rhimes accepting the National Equality Award.
“We need to stop being allies in theory. We need to be allies out loud. We need to be practicing allies. If I say an ally is who I am, then it should also be how I live,” said writer and producer Shonda Rhimes. “We are building our children’s futures. We’re honoring their ability to be who we are. So, you don’t climb a ladder without bringing someone else with you. And I don’t sit at a table without making sure there is room for everyone, and if there are no extra chairs at that table, I build a chair. Use what you have to be a better ally and know that the fight is far from over.”
View video of Lena Waithe accepting the Visibility Award.
“There are still bridges we need to build and wounds that we need to heal. I commend us as a society for the visibility that has come to view over the past few decades,” said Emmy-winning actor, writer and producer, Lena Waithe. “But I also want to challenge us to open our eyes and our hearts and understand that we still have so much work to do. Our children’s future will be determined by how we act today. We are told to love our neighbors as we love ourselves. Well I believe that the way we love our neighbors is a reflection of the way we love ourselves.”
View video of Matt Bomer accepting the Impact Award.
“The narrative in our industry at the time was ‘yes, you should compartmentalize your life if you want to succeed.’ But eventually I realized I couldn’t be truly happy unless I told the world who I am fully,” said Golden-Globe winning actor Matt Bomer. “I dedicate this award to all those fighting back. We change hearts and minds by continually being who we are and by doing what we do better than anyone else: showing up.”
In addition on Friday night, HRC kicked off its Equality Weekend with the 2023 Equality Convention at the Lisner Auditorium. The convention platformed the power of the LGBTQ+ movement by bringing together influential political and cultural voices–including state Delaware Sen. Sarah McBride, Montana Rep. Zooey Zephyr, Minneapolis City Council President Andrea Jenkins, Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights President Maya Wiley, Executive Director of Moms Demand Action Angela Ferrell-Zabala, and Reproductive Freedom for All President Mini Timmaraju. The conversation between speakers focused on the National State of Emergency facing the LGBTQ+ community amid a record-breaking year of anti-LGBTQ+ state legislation, the intersectionality of the fights for freedom and justice, and the strength of the equality movement. Photos from the 2023 Equality Convention can be found here.
The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people. HRC envisions a world where LGBTQ+ people are embraced as full members of society at home, at work and in every community.
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