Matt Bomer, Joe Mantello, Octavia Spencer & More Direct Short Films for GLSEN Respect Everywhere Celebration

The stories premiere today.

By: Oct. 26, 2020
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Matt Bomer, Joe Mantello, Octavia Spencer & More Direct Short Films for GLSEN Respect Everywhere Celebration

Today, GLSEN, the leading education organization focused on ensuring safe and inclusive schools for LGBTQ+ students and respect for all in school, announced that its annual Los Angeles Respect Awards will be reimagined as RESPECT EVERYWHERE. The collaboration between LGBTQ+ talent and allies will showcase the incredible stories of students from around the country - from a trans football player navigating the game, his activism and his identity to an immigrant student acclimating to their new country and their LGBTQ+ identity to a young lesbian finding balance between her Christianity and her authentic self. Each is making a tremendous impact on behalf of the LGBTQ+ community in their own way.

The celebrity directors who will tell these stories in a series of short, compelling videos include Kalen Allen, Matt Bomer, Rob Hardy, Joe Mantello, Antoni Porowski, and Octavia Spencer. The stories will premiere on October 26th on The online celebration will also mark the start of GLSEN's 30th Anniversary Celebration, recognizing the strides that the organization has made since its founding, and propelling its life-changing work forward.

"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'S 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."

"I was honored to meet Jessica Chiriboga and tell her story for GLSEN Respect Everywhere," said Octavia Spencer. "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."

Kalen Allen (The Ellen Degeneres Show) will direct the story of E. Smith, GLSEN's 2019 Student Advocate of the Year and Harvard freshman (they/them), a black, queer, non-binary, student dedicating their life to using their voice to generate positive social change.

Matt Bomer (The Boys in the Band) will direct the story of Austin Laufersweiler (he/him). Raised in a conservative county in Georgia, he began his journey to progressive activism with a simple GLSEN sticker on a counselor's door, which led him to advocate in the halls of Congress and the White House.

Rob Hardy (All American) will direct the story of scholar, artist, athlete, aspiring educator, and bisexual, non-binary trans man, JP Grant (he/him), who charts his own course and is fiercely dedicated to educating others about LGBTQ+ issues.

Joe Mantello (The Boys in the Band) directs the story of Gabriel Ian DiCenzo (he/him). After a hard-fought struggle against middle school bullies and isolation, Los Angeles high school senior Gabriel has followed the path from struggle to acceptance to celebration about his sexuality.

Antoni Porowski (Queer Eye) directs the story of proud queer Cambodian immigrant, Darid Prom (any/all), a first-year student at Swarthmore College, who arrived here at the age of ten not speaking a word of English. He had to navigate a new country, even as he began his journey of self-acceptance.

Octavia Spencer (Self Made: Inspired by the Life of Madam C.J. Walker) will direct the story of Jessica Chiriboga (she/her), a mixed-race lesbian, a scholar, an activist, a two-sport athlete, and a quadruplet, who found balance between her Christian faith and sexual identity.

The RESPECT EVERYWHERE Co-Chairs are Andrew Graham, Patrick Moran, Jeanette Perez, Ben Roy, and Chip Sullivan.

Honorary co-chairs for the event include Greg Berlanti & Robbie Rogers, Matt Bomer & Simon Halls, Bruce Bozzi & Bryan Lourd, Jess Cagle & Matt Whitney, Connor Franta, Bob Greenblatt, Marilyn & Jeffrey Katzenberg, Jim Parsons & Todd Spiewak, Julia Roberts & Danny Moder and Octavia Spencer.

To join the conversation, follow @GLSEN and #RespectEverywhere.