On Monday, June 18, 2014, Wanda Sykes hosted TrevorLIVE New York, which honored YouTube sensation Tyler Oakley, business powerhouse Goldman Sachs, and Huffington Post founder Arianna Huffington, who Jane Lynch lovingly referred to as a “true champion” while on the red carpet.
TrevorLIVE is a semi-annual benefit for The Trevor Project, the premier national organization focusing on crisis intervention and suicide prevention for LGBT and questioning youth.
The Trevor Project provides young people ages 13-24 with a number of cutting-edge resources for crisis intervention and suicide prevention. Some of Trevor’s resources include a 24/7 hotline called the Trevor Lifeline, an instant messaging service 6 hours a day called TrevorChat, a text messaging service 4 hours a day called TrevorText, and a social media platform for LGBT and questioning youth called TrevorSpace.
In addition, The Trevor Project provides professional development for educators, offering workshops that teach suicide prevention strategies, more effective allyship to LGBT and questioning youth, and youth empowerment. At TrevorLIVE, The Trevor Project strives to give recognition to those who are contributing to their mission “to end suicide among LGBTQ youth by providing life-saving and life-affirming resources.”
Trevor Youth Innovator Award recipient Tyler Oakley has used his social media fame to raise over $555,157 for The Trevor Project so far, despite being only 25-years old. With 4.5 million YouTube followers, 2.5 million followers on Twitter, and 1.5 million Facebook likes, he uses his social media stardom to show his support for The Trevor Project and to raise money for the nonprofit.
The Trevor 20/20 Visionary award was given to CIO Marty Chavez on behalf of Goldman Sachs. The Trevor Project recognizes that Goldman Sachs has been the flagship of big businesses for LGBT rights, offering domestic partnership benefits and covering gender reassignment surgery on employees’ insurance starting in 2002. Perhaps most notably, Goldman Sachs has earned a score of 100% on the HRC Corporate Equality Index for 10 consecutive years, fulfilling criteria related to equal employment opportunity, employment benefits, organizational LGBT competency, public engagement, and responsible citizenship.
The Trevor Hero Award was presented to Arianna Huffington, whose work for the Huffington Post, particularly the founding of Huffington Post Gay Voices, is recognized by The Trevor Project.
Arianna Huffington told The Trevor Project, “We are living through an incredible time, when at least the western world is shifting toward more and more tolerance and acceptance, especially of LGBTQ people, and this momentum will continue to grow, especially with the support of organizations like The Trevor Project to help empower young people to be proud of who they are. With each accomplishment of the LGBTQ community, the more encouraged I become not only as a journalist, but also as an ally. I’m extremely humbled by The Trevor Project for this honor.”
However, I was interested to hear what the champion of queer wit, Jane Lynch, had to say about giving awards for LGBTQ-related work and if she thinks there is a need for them. She told me, “I think awards are silly… I love the fact that Arianna is here and that she does all this stuff for us, but I don’t think we should talk so much about giving people awards for being decent, you know? But she is a champion, and always has been… even when she was a republican,” she jokes. Lynch continues, “She was a champion for equal rights and gay rights, and she’s been consistent about it, but I don’t like to focus on awards, you don’t have to announce your good works; people will know.”
Despite an evening filled with acknowledgements, celebrity appearances, and performances, Jane Lynch reminds us all that it is not the recognition that is important, but the good works that we do.