Charlie Carver may be proudly living as his authentic self these days, but his path to self-acceptance as a gay man was not without major challenges.
On Monday, the “Teen Wolf” and “Desperate Housewives” actor was presented with the 2020 GLSEN Gamechanger Award in a virtual ceremony. In a poignant speech, he recalled spending much of his youth fearing his sexuality would bring about “something swift and terrible” even as he received support from family.
“There was just this abiding sense that school wasn’t safe,” the 31-year-old said in the speech, viewable below. “I recognize now that that thing I was so afraid of, the thing I was sort of running from and trying to manage, was my own shame.”
“LGBTQ kids really suffer from the shaming they interject on the internet, often at school and sadly sometimes at home, and it affects them for the rest of their lives,” he continued. “But I believe LGBTQ people are resilient and in some ways particularly special. I think we seem inherently capable at thinking compassionately, acting courageously, working creatively and living in community. But those essential qualities can really only emerge in an affirmative, safe and encouraging environment.”
(Watch Charlie Carver’s 2020 GLSEN Respect Everywhere speech below.)
Carver first publicly acknowledged his sexuality in 2016.
“I now believe that by omitting this part of myself from the record, I am complicit in perpetuating the suffering, fear, and shame cast upon so many in the world,” he wrote in a series of Instagram posts at the time. “I owe it to myself, more than anything, to be who I needed when I was younger.”
In his Monday speech, he said he’d hoped sharing the “simple wonderful fact of who I was” would encourage others to live as their authentic selves, too.
“It was my hope that by writing this post and sharing why I’d arrived at the decision to come out professionally that some young person out there could feel the change that I felt was coming,” he said. “The change we all hope for and work for and wait for in our lives as LGBTQ folks.”
Carver will next be seen in Ryan Murphy’s production of “The Boys in the Band,” set to be released this fall on Netflix, and in “The Batman” with his twin brother, Max. He had been expected to receive the award at the 2020 GLSEN Respect Awards this week in New York. In light of the coronavirus pandemic, organizers decided to make this year’s event a virtual one alongside a weeklong series of fundraising initiatives for LGBTQ youth called Respect Everywhere.
Now in its 30th year, GLSEN (originally the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network) is a national advocacy group aimed at LGBTQ youth awareness and inclusion.
The group’s annual Gamechanger Award is presented to an individual or individuals who represent “the next generation making a difference for the LGBTQ community and around the world.” Prior recipients include Zendaya and the cast of “Riverdale.”