The Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network announced today that it will honor Lionsgate Films with the prestigious Chairman's Award at the ninth annual GLSEN Respect Awards in October.
The move has angered some LGBT activists who take issue with the production company's distribution of the forthcoming film Ender's Game, based on the book by noted homophobe and former National Organization for Marriage board member Orson Scott Card.
LGBT advocates have called for boycotts of the film, slated to hit theaters in November. GLSEN's decision to honor Lionsgate flies in the face of those calls and is an "insensitive choice" to receive an award at a ceremony celebrating respect, wrote Will Kohler, founder of the LGBT forum Back2Stonewall.
Geeks Out, the organization of LGBT geeks and gamers leading the charge to boycott Ender's Game, told Back2Stonewall that Lionsgate's pro-LGBT history doesn't mesh with its current promotion of Ender's Game.
“It’s difficult to reconcile Lionsgate’s history of LGBT engagement with their current marketing push for Ender’s Game," Patrick Yacco of Geeks Out told Back2Stonewall. "Lionsgate repeatedly promotes itself as a pro-equality entertainment company, but they continue to dance around the issue of their financial transactions with virulently homophobic author and activist Orson Scott Card. Until Lionsgate comes clean about Card’s financial stake in the Ender’s Game adaptation and its potential sequels, I find it very problematic that they’re being honored in this capacity.”
Lionsgate acquired Summit Entertainment last year and with it inherited the company's ongoing projects, including a production of Ender's Game starring Harrison Ford.
"GLSEN is proud to honor Lionsgate for its long-standing support for the LGBT community," GLSEN's communications director Daryl Presgraves said in a statement emailed to The Advocate. "Lionsgate has a long and rich history of creating LGBT-inclusive and affirming films and TV shows such as The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Gods and Monsters and Orange is the New Black. The studio also has been an industry leader in ensuring workplace protections and benefits for LGBT people."
While calls to boycott Ender's Game have continued, there are some LGBT people making the case that the film actually has a pro-equality message, and that the main character's struggles resonate in a multitude of ways.
Correction: An earlier version of this article included an incorrect statement attributed to Los Angeles-based Slate PR firm. The text has been updated with a statement emailed to The Advocate directly from GLSEN.