Jeremy Pope
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Watch: Tom Hanks Accepts the 2015 Trailblazer Award from Outfest

Actor Aaron Eckhart presented the 2015 Trailblazer Award to Tom Hanks last week. The two-time Academy Award–winning actor, director, and producer was honored in recognition of his groundbreaking, Oscar-winning performance in Philadelphia, the first major studio film to sympathetically portray characters with HIV/AIDS, 22 years ago. As he said in the speech, he was going to "preach to the choir."

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A couple of days later, Ron Nyswaner — who wrote the screenplay for Philadelphia as well as Freeheld — was also honored with an award for his screenplay for the film at the Los Angeles LGBT Center's Vanguard Awards. In his moving speech, he said: 

“We must take care to protect our history and our culture. We must be careful as we become ‘mainstream’ that we don’t forget that we are the descendants of outlaws and rebels,” he cautioned the audience Saturday night at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza in Los Angeles. “We must resist the tendency to be ‘de-gayed.’ ”

He also said: 

“We must remember and insist that others honor our history and our very specific gay culture. We are the inheritors of a culture that is created from pain and difficulty from being different. And from that difference, we created a powerful community that changed the world.

“We must recognize that power, the power of being different. We don’t have to be normalized to have all of our rights. And we don’t have to be normalized to be the main characters of film and television shows. We can still be fags and dykes.”

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