The actor, who revealed his sexuality in February (12), and his boyfriend, celebrity publicist Simon Halls, were honoured with the Inspiration Award for their “meaningful contributions toward creating a world where every child learns to respect and accept all people”.
The couple, which shares three children, was handed the accolade by Manganiello, and he was full of praise for his longtime pal.
He declared, “You are the example that the rest of our country needs to wake up and see in terms of equality and putting an end to the bullying epidemic and making sure that every family is respected in our schools and our society.”
Bomer opened up about his experiences of dealing with his sexuality growing up, admitting, “When I was in high school, there was no safe haven, there was no outlet for you to speak your mind. So I did what any self-preserving 14 year old would do – I signed up for the school play and also the football team to cover my tracks.
“When that happens, when you aren’t allowed to speak about who you are, one of the most authentic parts of who you are, which is who you love or who you’re attracted to, feels invisible. GLSEN gives visibility and authenticity to kids all across the country.
“Having kids teaches you so many things, and one of the things we both have learned in our parenting journey is how loving and accepting and open children’s minds and hearts are. Unfortunately, in some parts of the country, some kids are taught at an early age that being different is somehow bad or wrong or worthy of ridicule… Kids aren’t born to be bullies, they’re taught to be bullies.”
Other honourees at the Los Angeles ceremony included Jeffrey Katzenberg, the CEO of DreamWorks Animation, and his wife Marilyn, who landed the Lifetime Achievement Award, and Bob and Harvey Weinstein. They were feted with the Chairman’s Award, but only Bob attended the prizegiving – his sibling stayed in New York to look after their ailing mother.