At GLSEN Awards, Stars Share Their Growing Pains

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Honoree-2012 Inspiration Award Matt Bomer, Michael Patrick King and Honoree-2012 Inspiration Award Simon Halls.

At the eighth annual GLSEN Respect Awards, movie stars and high school students walked side by side down the Beverly Hills Hotel red carpet. The occasion, which honored Matt Bomer and his partner Simon Hall, shone a Hollywood spotlight on the systemic problems facing American schools, and the LGBT youth working to enact change.

While the Student Ambassadors expressed awe of their company ("I can’t believe I’m standing next to Amy Adams!" one gushed), it was ultimately the celebrities — among them Octavia Spencer, Jim Parsons, Chely Wright, Willie Garner, Wilson Cruz, and Joe Manganiello — who rose to applaud the fresh-faced advocates. Inspired, many of them recalled their own growing pains.

“I came from a small town, and grew up next to the same 33 kids kindergarten through 12th grade in one building. Everybody knew everything about everybody,” said singer Chely Wright, standing alongside her wife on the red carpet. “I took a lot of crap I didn’t have to take, for fear of being outed.”


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