Actress Judith Light has been named the 2019 recipient of the Isabelle Stevenson Award for her decades-spanning support for the LGBT+ community.
Light was an early supporter in the fight against HIV and AIDS and worked hard to combat stigma in the early 1980s. She has been involved with numerous LGBT+ organisations over the course of her career, including GLAAD and the Broadway Cares/Equity Fights group.
The award—which is a non-competitive Tony Award and recognises members of the theatre community for their human rights and advocacy work—has previously been awarded to Rosie O’Donnell and Larry Kramer.
“To be so generously acknowledged by The American Theatre Wing, The Broadway League and the Tony Awards, and to be included with these outstanding individuals who have received this honor before me, has been one of the most extraordinary gifts I have ever received in my life,” Light said in a statement provided to The Hollywood Reporter.
Judith Light spoke out against HIV/AIDS stigma in the early 1980s
Light became one of the first celebrities willing to speak out against anti-gay prejudice and stigma following the birth of the AIDS crisis. Since then, she has been involved in numerous fundraisers for LGBT+ issues and HIV/AIDS causes.
She has also served on the boards of both the Matthew Shepard Foundation—an organisation that was set up in honour of murdered gay student Matthew Shepard—and the LGBT+ scholarship organisation, the Point Foundation.
“The HIV/AIDS and LGBTQ+ communities are inspirations and demonstrations of how to be and live in the world; courageous, honorable and uplifting.”
– Judith Light
In addition, she played Shelly Pfefferman in Amazon’s Transparent for four seasons. The show centred around transgender woman Maura Pfefferman, who comes out later in life, and her family’s journey towards accepting her gender identity.
“The HIV/AIDS and LGBTQ+ communities are inspirations and demonstrations of how to be and live in the world; courageous, honorable and uplifting,” she said in the statement. “They inspire me and it is my privilege to be of service to them. I am humbled by this recognition from my theater family, whom I so respect, honor and love.”
She has been a tireless advocate for LGBT+ people
Light has been a tireless advocate for LGBT+ people for many years. In a 2015 interview with Pride Source, she said that the LGBT+ community had inspired her “to be the kind of person I wanted to be.”
“I wanted to be authentic and courageous, and for so long I wasn’t,” Light said.
“When I began doing a lot of advocacy work in the early ’80s for HIV and AIDS, I saw the community and the way the community was operating against all odds, against a world and a culture and country that gave them nothing and denigrated them. … I looked at this community and said, ‘This is breathtaking. This is the kind of world and people I want to be around. These are the kind of people I want to be working with.”