In its thirteenth year, the Colin Higgins Foundation Courage Awards champions the bravery and resilience of LGBTQ youth
NEW YORK, June 22, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Colin Higgins Foundation is proud to announce the 2012 Colin Higgins Youth Courage Award winners, a group of LGBTQ youth activists who have created safe places and support systems for their peers where none otherwise exist. From rural Oklahoma to the streets of New York City, Tempest Cartwright, Jeremiah Beaverly and Jazz are helping their peers find a safe place to be and discover themselves. In this year of dramatic shifts for the LGBT community, the Colin Higgins Foundation is proud to recognize a few of the youth helping us create a more equitable and just America today.
Coming from a long line of rural Oklahoma natives, Tempest is a bright voice for the voiceless in a less visible and conservative part of the country where being LGBT is especially discriminated against. With her military father as a source of steady support, Tempest has reached local, regional and national audiences with her thoughtful disposition, leadership and support for other young people who are not as fortunate to have accepting parents like her own. Tempest was asked to represent her area by GLSEN at a White House event for youth. Because of her courage and leadership qualities, they asked her to introduce Matt Shepard's mother Judy Shepard. She has been a volunteer with the Open Arms Youth Project in Tulsa, one of the only LGBT youth clubs in Oklahoma. When she realized how little resources were available to LGBT youth, Tempest became the co- founder and president of her own school's GSA. Her main goal in all of her leadership work is to give kids somewhere they can go to "feel safe, have level ground, and a clean slate." With her military father often deployed internationally, she has had to take on much responsibility and leadership even within her own family. As an avid artist, Tempest seeks to eventually connect her passion for the LGBT movement to the arts.
Originally from Chicago, Jeremiah grew up in an adoptive family who cast him out once he identified as openly gay at age 18. He has since spent most of his life as technically "homeless" and has bounced around shelters, temporary housing situations and some institutional homes that cater to homeless youth. Because of Jeremiah's ever present positivity, he has managed to build alliances with many young adults who want him to be successful and have assisted him in his journey to New York City. In New York City Jeremiah was seeking an eventual home, access to fashion school and the ability to be a young gay man, allowed to live his life in a fulfilled way. When Jeremiah came to New York, he became involved with the Ali-Forney center where he has completed many internship terms as a lead peer outreach educator focusing on homeless youth on the streets of New York. For young people to see Jeremiah as a peer who has come from living on the streets, it empowers them in ways that no adult or trained professional may be able to do. Jeremiah has facilitated workshops in high school and middle schools to combat homophobia and transphobia, has gone to Albany to lobby for appropriate funding and legislative support, and has spoken on many panels representing LGBT youth. With a reservoir of humility, enthusiasm, and charisma, Jeremiah provides critical mentorship to young people who are at a crossroads.
Jazz is an 11-year old transgender girl who was born a boy and insisted from age two that she was really a girl. At the age of five she appeared on the Barbara Walters Show and was identified as the youngest transgender child to publicly identify. Jazz is credited in starting the "Transkids' Movement." Her website, www.transkidspurplerainbow.org, has given many transkids and their parents identifiable individuals who can answer many of the challenging questions related to gender variance. She is an advocate and voice for transyouth and continues to consistently appear in the media in order to spread her message. Jazz has already inspired thousands of young people and adults the world over and has set a positive example for many young transgender kids who also want to feel good about themselves. She has over a million hits on YouTube and appears on panels at local universities in her hometown in Florida to answer questions from psychology and medical students. She has faced some of the most hateful bullying, discrimination and misunderstanding most of her life since she decided, along with her family, to be true to whom she really is. With the unwavering support of her mother Jeanette and in her fight for justice, Jazz fought the U.S. Soccer Assn. for not allowing her to play girls soccer and successfully changed the law because of her persistence, fair mindedness, and her determination.
This year's award winners demonstrate how, through extraordinary courage, resilience, and perseverance, ordinary people make the world a better place for others. "These youth remind us of what we are capable of and what we can overcome, and of our own strength. They are models for each of us. The Colin Higgins award helps honor those youth who would show us the way," says Gary Schwarz, Managing Director of Tides and Administrator of the Colin Higgins Courage Awards.
Youth Courage Award recipients receive a grant of $10,000 and will be honored at the Trevor Project Gala in New York City on June 25th. The Trevor Project operates the nation's only 24/7 suicide and crisis prevention helpline for gay and questioning youth. The awardees will also receive an expense-paid trip to attend the National Conference on LGBT Equality: Creating Change presented by the National Gay & Lesbian Taskforce.
The Courage Awards were established in 2000 to further the spirit and lifework of Colin Higgins, the acclaimed screenwriter/director, who created such films as Harold and Maude and Nine to Five. Following his films that celebrate characters who displayed honesty and integrity in the face of adversity, the Courage Awards were created to honor ordinary yet remarkable individuals whose courage helped to educate and enlighten others about the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer experience. In 2005, the program shifted its focus specifically to support LGBTQ youth. Over the last decade, the Foundation has issued 41 awards to activists hailing from 17 states and Puerto Rico. A list of previous winners can be found at www.colinhiggins.org.
About Colin Higgins Foundation
Colin Higgins (1941 - 1988), acclaimed screenwriter, director and producer of films such as Harold and Maude and Nine to Five, established the Colin Higgins Foundation in 1986 to further his humanitarian goals. In addition to the Youth Courage Awards, Colin Higgins Foundation supports organizations that build the power and leadership of LGBT youth (ages 13-24) through grassroots organizing and/or comprehensive leadership development and organizations dedicated to HIV/AIDS service, advocacy and prevention. Colin Higgins Foundation is administered by Tides. To learn more, visit www.colinhiggins.org.
The Tides mission is to partner with philanthropists, foundations, activists and organizations across the country and around the globe to promote economic justice, robust democratic processes, and the opportunity to live in a healthy and sustainable environment where human rights are preserved and protected. Tides provides financial and management services –and inspiration- to donors and doers so they can focus on achieving their vision of a just world. With offices in San Francisco and New York City, Tides provides fiscal sponsorship for over 200 groups across the country, operates and supports green nonprofit centers, and granted $108 million in 2008 alone. For more information, visit www.tides.org.
SOURCE Colin Higgins Foundation