Out has released the first round of 2013's OUT100 Presented by Buick and is introducing the winner of the inaugural Readers' Choice Award.
The world's leading gay fashion and lifestyle brand, the print and online source Out honors the most compelling people of the year with its annual OUT100 list and tops off the celebration with the OUT100 gala, which will take place on November 14 in New York City.
The list of honorees is being gradually released to the public, and so far includes legends, groundbreaking stars, and trailblazing advocates, like Sir Ian McKellan, three Boy Scouts of America who worked with GLAAD, author and advocate Janet Mock, trans homecoming queen Cassidy Lynn Campbell, and more, adding to the diverse list of artists, entertainers, and hard workers united by their incomparable talents and their passion for revolutionizing our culture. Engaging portraits of each honoree, all captured by photographer Danielle Levitt, will be featured in a gallery at the culminating gala as well as in the OUT100 print issue, which hits newsstands on November 19.
At this year's gala, those in attendance will be treated to live performances by Debbie Harry of Blondie, The Dolls, and one of the first openly gay country stars Steve Grand. Also special to this year's event is the debut of the annual Readers' Choice Award. 10 of this year's honorees were nominated—including Dustin Lance Black, Kate Bornstein, Thom Browne, Steve Grand, Roberta Kaplan, Mary Lambert, Billy Porter, Nate Silver, and George Takei—but only one, trans advocate and actress Laverne Cox, was chosen by readers' votes as the winner.
Laverne has skyrocketed to new levels of fame playing Sophia Burset on Orange is the New Black, though many have followed her career as an advocate for the LGBT community, writer, producer, actress, and reality star for years, admiring her honest and intellectual approaches to the experiences of LGBT people.
"As a trans woman of color, I’ve often looked for my story in the media," Laverne told Out, "and I haven’t seen it, or I’ve seen sensationalized, exploitative images of trans women of color, where they’ve been the victim of a crime...It’s wonderful to have this very human story about this trans woman [Sophia] that people are really connecting with.”
GLAAD's national spokesperson Wilson Cruz, when he learned of Laverne's award, said, "GLAAD has been a long-time admirer of Laverne and we have enjoyed working together and watching her career take off. Whether she's speaking directly with trans folk and grassroots LGBT advocates through campaigns like I AM: Trans People Speak and Voting While Trans, speaking on college campuses about anti-LGBT bullying, participating in a panel at a local LGBT center, or if she's hanging out with the big leagues like Melissa Harris Perry, Laverne consistently integrates her insights into social justice with her phenomenal creative abilities. I, for one, can't wait to see where she takes things next."
Don't forget to pick up OUT100's print issue and check out Out.com as they name more of the most compelling people. In the meantime, watch and share this video for a behind the scenes look at the Readers' Choice Award nominees and their accomplishments in their own words: