Ariana DeBose (Photo by: Bennett Raglin/Getty Images for Human Rights Campaign)

At the Feb. 4 Human Rights Campaign’s Greater New York Dinner, Tony Award nominee Ariana DeBose was honored with the Visibility Award. The annual event honors individuals and organizations dedicated to advocating for LGBTQ+ equality. Painter Kehinde Wiley was also honored at the ceremony as the recipient of the HRC National Equality Award.

DeBose, who won a 2022 Academy Award for the role of Anita in Steven Spielberg’s “West Side Story,” was nominated for the Best Performance By An Actress In A Featured Role In A Musical Tony for playing Disco Donna in “Summer.” 

She received the Visibility Award for her mentorship to the LGBTQ+ community and for openly sharing her journey as a queer person of color. Actor Cecily Strong, who appeared Off-Broadway last season and is best known for “Saturday Night Live,” presented DeBose with the award.

“The visibility is not only for me. It’s for others — and it’s a privilege and an honor to speak up and speak out on their behalf,” DeBose said during her remarks. “I also now know visibility to be an act of bravery. Again, not only for me — but for the young and yearning, the closeted and cloistered, those who are fighting for the simple right to be treated with the same dignity and respect that every heteronormative person is granted. Visibility is about bravery. An act of sheer will and courage to wake up every day and be exactly who you are in a society that will have you believe that it’s unsafe to do just that in order to maintain the status quo of comfortability.”

HRC’s president Kelley Robinson also made remarks and spoke about the “new chapter” the organization is entering.

“In this new chapter, HRC will have the audacity to build a world where LGBTQ+ people can be safe, celebrate, and joyful in all aspects of our lives,” Robinson said. “We’re gonna keep lifting up artists and actors and changemakers, so we can show the world what queer lives look like, what queer brilliance is.”