The 16th annual Catalyst Awards were held Tuesday evening in the Benton-Bingham Ballroom.
Every year, the award ceremony is held to honor and recognize individuals who speak up, out and often on behalf of the LGBT community.
LGBTQ Resource Center coordinator Struby Struble said the ceremony is unique in that it celebrates advocates from both the MU campus and Columbia community.
“We recognize the importance of those ties for our overall community doing well,” Struble said.
Nine student organizations and individuals received a Catalyst Award: Queer People of Color, Robby Jones, junior Joel Dalton, Rep. Jeanette Mott Oxford (D-St. Louis), the Department of Health Sciences, graduate student Vanessa Campagna, Josey Herrera, Howard Hutton and graduate student Daniel Stribling.
Herrera was the first genderqueer Homecoming king nominee and is the president of the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association chapter at MU.
Howard Hutton is the council coordinator for the Scouts for Equality organization in Columbia.
Anybody can nominate a single person or group for a Catalyst Award. The recipients are then chosen by a selection committee.
Dalton fought to hold back tears as he accepted his award.
“It validates all of the feelings and hard work I’ve done,” Dalton said. “I put in 100 percent day in and day out.”
Stribling was another recipient of the Catalyst award. He said he was honored to be accepted and embraced in the LGBT community.
“It’s definitely a huge honor to be recognized,” Stribling said.
He said the Catalyst is an award for the community, and not just the person who receives it.
Struble said the Catalyst Awards are an important part of recognizing those who actively work to make campus a community of kindness and acceptance.
“Specific to the LGBT community, there’s a disproportionate amount of negativity that can come from either identifying yourself as LGBT or as an LGBT ally,” Struble said. “And so, it highlights the importance of visibility in speaking out.”