Evan Rachel Wood receives award for gay rights awareness work

Newly-engaged Evan Rachel Wood has been honored by the Human Rights Campaign for her public support of the gay and lesbian community.

Wood took home the Visibility Award during the organization's gala dinner in Charlotte, North Carolina on Sunday (06Jan17), and used her acceptance speech to share her own struggle to accept her sexuality.

Noting that she feels a responsibility to shed light on issues faced by the LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer) community, the Westworld star said, "As an actor, my job is to look at a stranger and find myself in them - to connect the dots, to have such empathy for a character that I can read someone else’s words and be moved to tears.

“Turning empathy into vulnerability... and it wasn’t until I saw the effect that it had on other people that I really started to see how powerful really allowing your most vulnerable parts to be seen was. I saw another side to what I did, and it was the power of visibility.”

Wood also noted her attraction to both women and men from the age of 12 didn’t initially seem strange or out of the ordinary.

"I thought women were beautiful," the star said, "but because I was born that way I never once stopped to think that was strange or anything to fear. I also thought that men were beautiful.”

Following the ceremony, the 29-year-old tweeted a video of her speech and expressed her gratitude to the Human Rights Commission.

"If I never make another speech in my life, I'm glad I made this one," she wrote. "Thank you @HRC for letting me share and connect."

Wood recently announced her engagement to Zach Villa, her bandmate in musical duo Rebel and a Basketcase. She shares a son with her actor ex Jamie Bell, who she was married to from 2012 to 2014.