The TIME 100, the magazine’s list of the world’s most influential people, this year includes LGBT activists and celebrities Gavin Grimm, RuPaul and Sarah Paulson. Barry Jenkins, director of Oscar-winning film, Moonlight, also made it into the list.
The student sued the Gloucester County School Board – who ordered him to use a toilet corresponding with his “biological gender” – with help from the American Civil Liberties Union, arguing that the policy violates his right to freedom from discrimination.
The 4th Circuit Court of Appeals rejected a request from Grimm’s attorneys asking for a May hearing in order to achieve a ruling before the teenager graduates.
However, the impact of Grimm and his landmark case was shown by his invitation to speak at the US Congress earlier this month.
During his appearance, Grimm condemned President Trump’s decision to roll back protections for trans students, saying: “The guidance had a very simple message: treat trans students with dignity and respect for who they are. The decision to withdraw the guidance sent a terrible message to some of the most vulnerable people.”
Adding that he was “so disappointed” with the move, he said: “Actions speak far louder than words, and the message sent with this action could not have been more damaging for trans youth.”
Speaking to local publication Daily Press about his making the Time100 list, the teenager said, “It’s inconceivable. I still haven’t really registered it. To have a place immortalised through time, literally, and in the sense of the publication, is such an honour. To have a transgender youth activist on a list of influential people is a hugely important step forward for transgender advocacy. It sends the message that the story is being told and the message is being heard.”
Janet Mock, a trans author who has worked tirelessly for trans equality, wrote in his profile that: “Gavin is the cherubic face of a reductive, dirty debate about trans people’s right to exist in public spaces without hostility, harassment and violence.”
She added that Grimm’s case, which will now not be heard before he graduates, “has implications that extend far beyond bathrooms. It’s about a greater sense of belonging for us all—at school, at home and in our neighborhoods and places of work and worship. So many are made to feel as if they should hide, pretend or perish. Gavin’s refusal to be treated unjustly is an enduring reminder that we will not be stayed.”
Sarah Paulson, who came out in 2005 when she kissed her then-partner Cherry Jones as she went up to accept her Tony, had an incredible year. She won a Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild Award for her portrayal of prosecutor Marcia Clark in American Crime Story: The People v. O. J. Simpson.
Cate Blanchett, writing for TIME, called her “unique and unboxable,” adding that Paulson “has been at the forefront of a generation of women who are changing the landscape of the film and television industry.
“When I first met her, on the set of Carol, I was floored by her buoyancy, her irreverence, her left-field sense of humor and her devotion to her craft,” she continued. “You enter a scene with Sarah and it’s game on. She brings with her, in work as in life, the sense that anything is possible. Anything.”
The star also got married in January, on the 23rd anniversary of when he met his now-husband Georges LeBar.
Supermodel Naomi Campbell says of him: “As soon as I saw him, I wanted to know where he was going, because that was where I wanted to be. Ru was different. Not just because he had perfect, precise clothes and makeup, or because he was the only man I knew who could look that good in a wig and heels. There were no rough edges to be found. But as I got to know him better, I got to experience firsthand his wit and his intelligence — he’s like an encyclopedia. And his beauty is far beyond skin-deep.”
She added that it was “incredible what he’s done for the drag queens who compete on that show – bringing them out, introducing them to a mainstream audience and letting them be proud of who they are and what they want to be.”
Barry Jenkins, who won the Oscar for best director for the gay-themed Moonlight – which took home eight Academy Awards in total, including best film – was commended by fellow director Kathryn Bigelow as “of the rare artists who are willing to look into the deeper places of themselves and society in order to provide a lens through which we may discover the humanity at our core.”
Bigelow went on to say: “From his first feature, Medicine for Melancholy, to Moonlight, which he wrote and directed, each film tells an important and timely story that brings you into its world. He not only knows where he is coming from, but he has the gift of being able to show you that place and make you understand it—from capturing the literal colors of a city to the deep untold anguish of a young boy searching for his place.”