GLAAD Global Voices: This British actress uses her platform for LGBT awareness

As the leading LGBT media advocacy organization, GLAAD recognizes individuals who through their work positively impact the LGBT movement. Along with recognizing national activists, GLAAD also acknowledges individuals who make an impact on a global scale. One of such individuals is Sophie Ward, a British actress and writer.

Having appeared in well-known films 'Wuthering Heights' and 'Book of Blood' Ward has used her platform as a popular actress to raise awareness about alternative family structures, body image, and suicide in LGBT communities.

After coming out in 1996, she's inspired many LGBT people in Britain and elsewhere to feel courageous to be comfortable with their identities and advocate for their communities. She's participated in many conferences addressing these issues. Most recently Ward spoke about her own struggles with suicide at a conference organized by the LGBT rights charity Stonewall in London in 2013, and is set to speak at London's upcoming Alternative Parenting Show to advocate for the inclusion of LGBT families in British society and public policy. Ward also writes a column for British magazine g3, whose intended audience is “for the not-so-straight woman.”

Ward recently wrote for The Guardian, reflecting on England's recent passage of marriage equality:

So that's it. The law has changed and from now on we can get married. This seems so simple, so obvious, so clear. Fall in love and get married. The natural progression of a relationship that most of us grow up to expect, from the first moment we understand the concept of "happily ever after".

Perhaps this is what the objectors have most feared; gay people being included in the natural order. Such an order is always defended most vigorously by those who do not wish to share the wealth of social inclusion. Skin, gender, sexuality. Society has struggled to accept that these differences do not preclude the right to live with equal dignity and freedom of choice. It was the natural order that some should be enslaved, that women should be subjugated to men, that gay people should be extinguished. The arrangement demeaned us all.

This is what is meant by true equality: the recognition that the freedoms and rights of others are important in themselves, not only because they increase the sum total of human happiness but because we are all enriched by those we include. With marriage comes the understanding that gay relationships are equally valuable not just to the couple but to society. And in turn, our responsibilities exist not just in spite of our sexuality but because of the very relationships we wish to celebrate.

Before becoming an actress, Ward was a model. She shared her experiences with body issues and an eating disorder on 'A Beautiful Body Project' and is an advocate for women's and LGBT people's right to be comfortable with themselves despite mainstream beauty standards.

Through her work and involvement with the media and the LGBT community, Ward has demonstrated a great dedication to advancing the equality movement around the world.

In conjunction with the inaugural International Advocate for Change Award to be presented at the 25th Annual GLAAD Media Awards, GLAAD is highlighting international advocates working through the media to advance equality across the globe. Earlier this year GLAAD launched the GLAAD Global Voices program, which aims to build support for LGBT equality across the globe by sharing culture-changing stories of LGBT people and families in national and international media.

The GLAAD Media Awards ceremonies will be held in Los Angeles on April 12, 2014 at The Beverly Hilton and in New York on May 3 at the Waldorf Astoria New York. The GLAAD Media Awards recognize and honor media for their fair, accurate and inclusive representations of the LGBT community and the issues that affect their lives. The GLAAD Media Awards also fund GLAAD's work to amplify stories from the LGBT community and issues that build support for equality.

GLAAD is proud to recognize individuals such as Sophie Ward who through their work help promote the international conversation about the inclusion of the LGBT community.