On Saturday night, Troye Sivan made history as the youngest person ever to receive the GLAAD Media Stephen F. Kolzak Award, celebrating his activism and the visibility he brings to the LGBTQ community. The award was presented by Carly Rae Jepsen and queer songwriter Justin Tranter, who's a newly appointed GLAAD board member this year. In addition to thanking the LGBTQ media advocacy organization, Sivan dedicated the honor to queer activists who came before him, including Peter Staley, Marsha P. Johnson and Gilbert Baker, who died last week at age 65.
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"This award is so much larger than me," he said in the speech. "This moment is about visibility and about representation. What and who we see in the media defines our perception of the world around us, and so to see ourselves in this picture of what is 'normal' and what is acceptable and what is beautiful is absolutely vital. In saying that, so much of the work that has contributed to our progress as a community is far less glamorous than the work that I'm being honored for tonight."
Sivan also discussed the 20th century AIDS epidemic, paying homage to David France's 2012 documentary How to Survive a Plague, which profiled early organizations, such as ACT UP (AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power). "Within the characters in the doc, I saw myself, and I saw my friends, and I saw my colleagues, and I saw my boyfriend," he said. "These kids were young, smart, active fighters. I saw that wit, that humor, that resilience that I've grown to love so much about my community."
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Sivan acknowledged that the difference between then and now was that people were attending a friend's funeral on a weekly basis. "This was in New York City, not even 40 years ago," he said. "They were fighting for medical treatment, for visibility, and they were fighting for their lives. It was a life or death situation [...] Though times and our needs may have changed, this ethos and spirit still persists in our community today."
Watch Troye Sivan's powerful acceptance speech, below.