On September 26, only days after winning an Emmy for her portrayal of President Allison Taylor on FOX’s hit series 24, Tony-winner, longtime gay rights advocate and one of GO’s 2009 “Women We Love,” actress Cherry Jones received the Point Courage Award at the Point Honors Benefit in Los Angeles.
According to the Point Foundation, the nation’s largest scholarship fund for LGBT students, the Courage Award “recognizes an individual who has advocated for the future of the LGBT community and lives with the vision that investing in today’s potential will produce a brighter tomorrow.”
The Point Foundation’s mission is to provide “financial support, mentoring, leadership training and hope to meritorious students who are marginalized due to sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.”
Of the selection, Jorge Valencia, executive director of the Point Foundation, told the Advocate: "In addition to being one of the most respected actresses in her profession, Cherry Jones has lived her life unapologetically as an out lesbian and is a shining example of courage to all individuals fighting for equality. More importantly, Ms. Jones gives hope to young people everywhere, including our Point Scholars.” Jones and her partner, actress Sarah Paulson, have been out as a couple for years, sharing an on-camera kiss when Jones won the Tony Award for Doubt in 2005.
Point Foundation scholars are LGBT students whose families are either unable or unwilling to support their education, many times youth who have been kicked out of their homes. They are trained in leadership, advocacy, philanthropy and accountability, in addition to being offered academic and financial support.
Another way the Point Foundation reaches out to LGBT students is through a mentoring program, a program Jones told the Advocate she would like to participate in.
“The mentors really do try to encourage the kids to keep trying to engage with their families, which to me is almost the most important thing that a mentor can do for a gay person who has been shunned by their family,” Jones said. “The most empowering thing is to persevere: They’ve given up on you, but that doesn’t mean you have to give up on them.”