GLSEN, an organization that helps build safe and inclusive schools for LGBTQ+ youth, took its annual Respect Awards online this year with a week-long series called Respect Everywhere. The series aims to celebrate the heroes who help make GLSEN’s work possible, including one of our favorite icons: “The L Word” actress Jennifer Beals.
On Wednesday, GLSEN honored Jennifer Beals with the Champion Award. Several of the old “The L Word” crew appeared to help celebrate her, including Kate Moennig, Leisha Hailey, and co-creator Ilene Chaiken.
“We’re so thrilled to help GLSEN honor Jennifer for her work as an activist and ally to the LGBTQ community,” Chaiken said. She added that she feels “lucky” to have worked with Beals for six seasons of the original “The L Word,” which began airing at “a time when a series centered around a group of lesbian friends was a groundbreaking concept.”
Beals is now reprising her role as Bette Porter on “The L Word: Generation Q” alongside Hailey and Moennig. She also serves as an executive producer. But, as Hailey noted, Beals’ work for the LGBTQ+ community goes far beyond her portrayal of this “iconic lesbian role.”
“She has devoted countless hours and funds as an activist and ally for the LGBTQ community, participating in numerous GLSEN events and campaigns speaking up on behalf of the community and even using her birthday to hold fundraisers for GLSEN,” Hailey said.
In her acceptance speech, Beals thanked Hailey, Moennig, and Chaiken for their kind words and friendship, calling the GLSEN award an “amazing honor.” She discussed how, in her own youth, she experienced being “other” in a predominantly white classroom.
“Other is a superpower, but it can also be a pulsing vulnerability in certain spaces, and sometimes it can be both at the same time,” Beals explained. “When I heard GLSEN was working to create safe spaces for LGBTQ students by helping schools develop inclusive curriculums from K to 12, to help change the narrative of who is deserving of respect and who deserves a place at the table, I was truly excited.”
Other GLSEN Respect Everywhere honorees include Charlie Carver, Ben Platt, Ilima Intermediate School’s Rainbow Royales GSA, and Educator of the Year Tray Robinson.