Editor's Note: Guest blogger Will Kohler is a freelance writer and activist from Cincinnati, Ohio. Will blogs at Back2Stonewall.com.
In a controversial move, GLSEN -- the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network -- will be honoring Lionsgate Films with the Chairman's Award at its Ninth Annual GLSEN Respect Awards ceremony on October 19th. The move comes despite major backlash from the LGBT community and a boycott of its upcoming film "Enders Game," which was written and produced by outspoken homophobe and former National Organization for Marriage board member Orson Scott Card.
I reached out to Andy Mara, GLSEN's press representative, about the choice of Lionsgate as a reward recipient and how rewarding such a company runs counter to the concept of "respect" for LGBT people that the Respect Awards are supposed to promote. Below is the response that I received not from Mara himself, but from Julia Marella of Slate PR, a public relations firm based in Hollywood:
Lionsgate has a long and rich history of creating LGBT-inclusive and affirming films. The studio has also been an industry leader in ensuring workplace protections and benefits for LGBT people. When Lionsgate acquired Summit Entertainment last year, the company inherited its library of current projects, including Ender's Game. Though GLSEN flatly rejects book author Orson Scott Card's support for the discrimination of LGBT people, we stand behind Lionsgate's similar rejection of Card's personal beliefs and its long-standing commitment to support the LGBT community.
Patrick Yacco of Geeks Out, the organization behind the ongoing "Skip Ender's Game" boycott, had this to say of GLSEN's choice:
"It's difficult to reconcile Lionsgate's history of LGBT engagement with their current marketing push for Ender's Game. Lionsgate repeatedly promotes itself as a pro-equality entertainment company, but they continue to dance around the issue of their financial transactions with virulently homophobic author and activist Orson Scott Card. Until Lionsgate comes clean about Card's financial stake in the Ender's Game adaptation and its potential sequels, I find it very problematic that they're being honored in this capacity."
The question now is this: will GLSEN lose "respect" within the LGBT community by making such an insensitive choice for an award?
This post originally appeared at Back2Stonewall.