The Gay Lesbian and Straight Education Network, or GLSEN, held their tenth annual Respect Awards ceremony this weekend at the Regent Beverly Wilshire. The organization dedicates itself to ending anti-gay bullying and discrimination in schools. They paid tribute to several LGBT advocates at their awards this year, but their highest honor, the Humanitarian Award, went to Julia Roberts and husband Danny Modor.
Ryan Murphy introduced Roberts and noted the nostalgic connection she had with the lovely hotel where the ceremony was held. “25 years ago, ladies and gentlemen, she filmed Pretty Woman in this hotel,” he said, “that’s a long time ago. And look at her now. Look what she’s done in 25 years”
But it wasn’t Pretty Woman that brought Roberts to the stage, but her range of activist work, not only partnering with GLSEN to make schools a safer place for LGBT individuals, but also working with UNICEF, Stand Up to Cancer, and Heal The Bay. Murphy also notes that his recent film The Normal Heart which has helped to spread awareness about the struggles of gay men during the AIDS epidemic in the early 80s may not have gotten made if it weren’t for the star’s involvement.
Roberts accepted the award gracefully. “It’s a bit of a fraud because there is so much power and conversation that goes on in this room that is separate from us,” she said, “I realized tonight that I serve a purpose as a finger pointer. A good finger pointer. The one that says ‘look over here. Look at this young man.’ A humanitarian is a person who brings attention to the welfare and good works of others. In that regard, we are that. We are all that. I feel like this award should be the ‘big mom award’ because that is what moms do all day, every day.”
Roberts went on, in a more lighthearted tone “I want to energetically just pour my heart out to all the mothers of all the children who have suffered from this kind of bullying. I just want to go and beat the shit out of [the bullies] and you can’t because then there’s the second wave of bullying. ‘Oh, your mom just beat the shit out of that guy.'”
“What’s the point if not to be kind and unconditional in our love to one another?” Asked Roberts.
While Roberts is humble in her acceptance of the award, her work and GLSEN’s work to make schools a safer place for all kids is important to all of us. Congratulations to the winners of all of the Respect Awards this weekend and thanks to the organization and everyone involved in the cause.