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Press Release

Outright International Holds 27th Celebration of Courage Awards and Gala, Raises $1 Million



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New York, New York - June 6, 2023 - Outright International, a global human rights organization dedicated to improving the lives of LGBTIQ people across the world, last night marked its 27th Celebration of Courage awards and gala held at Pier Sixty in New York City. An evening of inspiration, the gathering highlighted Outright's achievements while elevating and advancing the voices of those leading the charge for LGBTIQ equality. The event, which raised $1 million, attracted high-level supporters and esteemed partners who are among New York City and the world’s most influential philanthropists, movement and civic leaders, celebrities and luminaries. 

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“The global movement for LGBTIQ human rights has many champions,” noted Maria Sjödin, Executive Director of Outright International. “They are the activists who put their lives on the line every day; they are the public policymakers who find courage to speak out in support of our communities; they are corporate LGBTIQ leaders and allies who demand inclusion; they are philanthropists who ensure the movement is resourced to fight the opposition seeking to erase LGBTIQ people; and they are social and cultural influencers who loudly proclaim that change cannot wait. At Celebration of Courage, we acknowledge and thank these changemakers, and recommit ourselves to the fight ahead, as no one can be left behind.”

The event was hosted by Bebe Zahara Benet, the inaugural winner of RuPaul’s Drag Race, the star of TLC’s Dragnificent and the subject of the award-winning documentary Being BeBe. 



This year’s honorees included the Eastern Caribbean Alliance for Diversity and Equality (ECADE), which received the prestigious Felipa de Souza Award; - Google’s philanthropy - which was honored with the Outstanding Award; and, finally, this year’s Outspoken Award was presented to the queer cast and production team of Paramount'+s Star Trek: Discovery, including Wilson Cruz, Anthony Rapp, and Blu del Barrio. 


Felipa de Souza Award

ECADE is a recognized leader in the Eastern Caribbean where the LGBTIQ community face stigma and discrimination. ECADE has been a beacon of hope, inspiration and action. Their recent work has advanced the decriminalization of colonial-era sodomy laws in Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, and Saint Kitts and Nevis. They have also been working toward greater social protections and facilitation of  LGBTIQ sensitivity training for police and service providers as well as bringing awareness towards gender-based violence against women and gender nonconforming people. 


“A pioneer in regional LGBTIQ community building and mobilizing, ECADE is deeply invested in the capacity building and empowerment of LGBTIQ people in the Caribbean who are often denied access based on negative perceptions,” noted ECADE Executive Director, Kenita Placide. “ECADE’s Board of Directors, Secretariat, and staff are moved beyond words to be recognized with this prestigious award.”



Outstanding Award has demonstrated an extraordinary philanthropic commitment to Outright and the global movement to advance human rights for LGBTIQ people. From its inspirational support of Outright’s COVID-19 and Ukraine Emergency Funds, publications, and digital campaigns to its use of talent, events, platforms, and brand to amplify Outright’s work and the issues impacting our communities, has exhibited an incredible effort to ensure that LGBTIQ people globally are centered and uplifted.  


“I’m particularly honored to be in the presence of so many activists and leaders in the movement. Their work is a call to action for each of us to use our position to drive change. In the corporate sector, this means recognizing that our responsibility is broader than revenue — that we can use our resources and platforms to positively impact the world," said James Heighington, DEI Chief for Google. 



Outspoken Award

The Star Trek franchise’s core values align closely with Outright’s own: education, care, compassion, diversity, equity, inclusion, advocacy, and authentic LGBTIQ representation and storytelling. Members of the queer cast of Star Trek: Discovery are global LGBTIQ icons – courageous and elevating the visibility, voice, and platform of millions of queer people around the world that battle discrimination and risk to their personal safety, every day. 


"Through the show, the LGBTIQ community is being seen and heard in the ways we want to be seen and heard, as our truest selves, as the heroes of our own stories and our own fight for dignity and equality,” shares cast member and actorvist Wilson Cruz. "On Discovery, we are the heroes of our own stories. No one saves us. We save our own lives, and in so doing, we hope to inspire you to do the same... Let’s take action together today, for better LGBTIQ lives tomorrow."

“Outright International is the longest-operating U.S.-based international LGBTIQ human rights organization,” said Michelle Paradise, executive producer of Star Trek: Discovery. “We thank them for recognizing the potential of what television and our show specifically can do when we all work together through storytelling to advance the positive portrayal of the queer community worldwide.


The 27th Celebration of Courage awards and gala is made possible through the generous support of all of our event sponsors, most particularly our Diamond partner: Adobe Foundation; our Platinum partners: CBS Studios, Constellation Brands, Deutsche Bank,, Paramount+, and P&G; and our Gold partners: Audeliss, Dr. Martens Foundation, Global Citizen, Grindr, JPMorgan Chase & Co., Lee, Remarkably, and The Walt Disney Company. 

Coverage of the event was reported on the Washington and Los Angeles Blade, Gay City News, The Hollywood Reporter, Pride: The and The Knockturnal. Celebrity sightings of the event were also covered by leading industry trades including Extra TV, In Touch Weekly, Life&Style, People and Variety

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