Beyoncé Giselle Knowles-Carter and her husband were honored at the GLAAD Media Awards Thursday night in Los Angeles with the group’s Vanguard Award for their allyship. Perhaps the most powerful couple in Hollywood, the duo took to the Beverly Hilton stage, received their award from an icon herself, Janet Mock, thanked the LGBTQ+ community, and made a special shout out to Beyoncé's gay uncle.
"He was brave and unapologetic during a time when this country wasn’t as accepting," the music superstar said of her gay uncle. "Witnessing his battle with HIV was one of the most painful experiences I’ve ever lived. I’m hopeful that his struggle served to open pathways for other young people to live more freely. LGBTQIA rights are human rights."
She also said that her and her husband were there to "promote love for every human being" which begins with those closest to you.
"Let’s tell them they are loved, let's remind them they are beautiful, let’s speak out and protect them and parents let's love our kids in their truest form," she said.
Introducing Queen Bey and JAY-Z, Janet Mock noted that pop culture played a huge part in her growing up as a Black trans woman and specifically pointed to Destiny's Child "Bills Bills Bills" video as a huge part of her journey as a trans woman.
"Beyonce, watching you evolve as an artist, an icon, a mother, and a feminist, a public Black woman on the world stage who wields her voice like a weapon against racism and sexism and injustice, you offer me a blueprint to do the same with my life," Mock said.
"Beyonce shows us that impossible doesn't exist and the status quo is only for those that lack imagination," Emmy award winner Lena Waithe said before Beyonce took the stage. "Not only does she support the queer community, but she keeps us employed: choreographers, makeup artists, stylists. Thank you for not just being inspired by us. Thank you for including us on your team."
GLAAD is the world’s largest LGBTQ+ media advocacy organization. Their Vanguard Award specifically honors allies who’ve used their platforms to support LGBTQ+ people. And Bey and Sean “Jay-Z” Carter seem to fit the bill.
In an advance press release, the organization noted Beyoncé’s record includes speaking out against laws that would discriminate against LGBTQ+ people in states including North Carolina and openly celebrating the passage of marriage equality nationwide. The best rapper alive — have you listened to Everything Is Love? If so, then you know the best rapper alive is a woman! — has also included LGBTQ+ people in her art and work, featuring members of the community in the “Formation” and “All Night” videos and in her Ivy Park clothing line campaign.
Additionally, Beyoncé’s other half received a GLAAD Special Recognition Award last year for his song and music video, “Smile,” featuring his mother Gloria Carter who used the song to come out as a lesbian. He’s also featured LGBTQ+ folk in his art including an appearance by Mock in the video for “Family Feud” which opens with a quote from legendary gay writer James Baldwin. Jay-Z is also on record saying the passage of marriage equality was “the right thing to do as a human being.”
Previous Vanguard Award honorees include Jennifer Lopez, Kerry Washington, Cher, Janet Jackson, Elizabeth Taylor, Antonio Banderas, Demi Lovato, Whoopi Goldberg, Eric McCormack, and Britney Spears.
Read the couple’s full remarks below:
JAY-Z: Thank you GLAAD for this amazing honor and having us here this evening. Life’s journey is filled with highs, lows, and a lot of learning. This is a momentous night and I also want to, because I didn’t do it last year, I want to honor my mother who received the award last year … spreading love and acceptance and her beautiful speech at the end of the song “Smile” and for allowing me to tell her story. I want everyone to acknowledge that.
And her strong message of love being love. And the souls that connect and now my soul is connected to you.
Beyonce: First of all, we were not expecting those incredible presenters and I’m just super honored and overwhelmed and I’ve already cried. One of the most beautiful memories from my tour was going on stage and looking out every night and seeing the hardest gangster trap lover next to the most fabulous queens respecting and celebrating each other.
That’s really a great partnership, connecting people who at first glance seem to be worlds apart. That’s our fans... Our family, the LGBTQ+ community, has always supported us and lifted us up and we thank you guys. We’re here to promote love for every human being and change starts with supporting the people closest to you. So let’s tell them they are loved, let's remind them they are beautiful, let’s speak out and protect them and parents let's love our kids in their truest form.
Lastly, I want to dedicate this award to my uncle Johnny, the most fabulous gay man I have ever met, who helped raise me and my sister. He lived his truth. He was brave and unapologetic during a time when this country wasn’t as accepting. Witnessing his battle with HIV was one of the most painful experiences I’ve ever lived. I’m hopeful that his struggle served to open pathways for other young people to live more freely. LGBTQIA rights are human rights. To choose who you love is your human right. How you identify and see yourself is your human right. Who you make love to and take that ass to Red Lobster is your human right. I love you and for this I am grateful. Thank you.