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Charlie Carver Feared 'School Wasn't Safe' for a Gay Person

Charlie Carver

The actor revealed his struggle with shame and how he is now helping young LGBTQ+ people overcome it.

Like many LGBTQ+ young people, Charlie Carver once felt unsafe in school.

The 31-year-old actor, who came out publicly in a 2016 Instagram post, addressed these past fears in his acceptance speech video for the GLSEN Gamechanger Award.

"There was just this abiding sense that school wasn't safe. Or more than anything, if I let my guard down, and if I fully relaxed into a state of belonging, that something swift and terrible would come and find me," said the actor, known for Desperate Housewives, Teen Wolf, I Am Michael, and the upcoming The Batman. "And 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."

Carver's speech was originally scheduled to take place in New York City at the GLSEN Respect Awards. But in light of the current health crisis, it was transitioned to a virtual fundraiser, GLSEN Respect Everywhere, for the nonprofit supporting LGBTQ+ students.

In his remarks, Carver also addressed that he came out in order to help LGBTQ+ young people with their own battles with shame. Appropriately, his 2016 Instagram post was inspired by an anonymous quote, "Be who you needed when you were younger."

"I always knew I wanted to do something with my life that might help young people in their relationship to shame," Carver said. "I didn't want spectacle. I just wanted to reveal this part of myself in a kind of way I wish I'd been able to share all those years ago in school as a simple wonderful fact of who I was. 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 and had been coming and would be coming--the change we all hope for and work for and wait for in our lives as LGBTQ folks."

"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 added. "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 qualities, those essential qualities can really only emerge in an affirmative, safe and encouraging environment."

Carver, who also appeared in the Broadway revival of The Boys in the Band, was presented with the Gamechanger Award by his castmates: Jim Parsons, Zachary Quinto, Matt Bomer, Andrew Rannells, Robin de Jesus, Tuc Watkins, Brian Hutchison, and Michael Benjamin Washington. The ensemble is set to reunite for an upcoming Ryan Murphy Netflix adaptation of the landmark gay play.

"Throughout his entire career, Charlie Carver has used his platform to galvanize the LGBTQ community, especially the next generation," Rannells said.

"He's a perfect shining example of GLSEN's commitment to building community and protecting LGBTQ students both online and offline and how when you bring your whole self to your work and your life, amazing things can happen," Watkins added.

In addition to Carver, The L Word: Generation Q star Jennifer Beals, Hawaii's Ilima Intermediate School's Rainbow Royales GSA, and educator Tray Robinson will also be honored in its Respect Everywhere fundraiser this week.

Watch Carver's speech below.

Related | Teen Wolf Star Charlie Carver Comes Out as Gay

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