Anything Beyoncé and Jay-Z do as a team is almost inevitably going to be praised to infinity. Case in point: this year, the power couple will be honored for being LGBTQ allies with GLAAD’s Vanguard Award.
The purpose of the award, according to a press release from the organization, is to celebrate “allies who have made a significant difference in promoting acceptance of LGBTQ people” and recognize the celebrity supporters of the LGBTQ community who use their platforms, whether that be music, film, or social media, to encourage acceptance. “When Beyoncé and Jay-Z speak, the world becomes inspired and when it comes to LGBTQ people, their voices of acceptance have been heard loud and clear,” said GLAAD president and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis in the official press release for the Vanguard Award. “We could not be prouder to stand with them to send a message of love during the biggest LGBTQ event in the world and to honor their work to bend the arc of justice forward for LGBTQ people, people of color, and marginalized communities everywhere,” Ellis continued.
Last year, the Vanguard Award was presented to Britney Spears, a gay icon in her own right, for signing a letter in protest of transphobic bathroom bills and writing letters to her young queer fans.
Those who have received the award over the years is varied, to say the least. Past winners include allies who have worked to encourage the acceptance of LGBTQ people, like Elizabeth Taylor who founded the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation in 1991 to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS and Cher, who refused to perform at the Sochi Olympics due to Russia’s anti-LGBT laws. But the very first GLAAD Vanguard Award was presented to Roseanne Barr and Tom Arnold in 1993, and though she may have introduced a queer character to the American sitcom canon (Sara Gilbert’s Darlene on Roseanne), she hasn’t exactly been a beacon of love and acceptance for marginalized communities in recent years.
This year, GLAAD cites Beyoncé’s support of marriage equality and inclusion of LGBTQ couples in her music videos for “Formation” and “All Night,” dedicating a “Halo” performance to the victims and survivors of the Orlando Pulse shooting, and featuring Laverne Cox as the face of her athleisure line Ivy Park, as examples of her global support of the LGBTQ community. According to GLAAD, Jay-Z’s allyship stems from his inclusion of Janet Mock in the music video for “Family Feud” and for making space for his mother Gloria Carter to come out as a lesbian in his song “Smile” (for which the rapper also won last year’s GLAAD Special Recognition Award).
The 30th Annual GLAAD Media Awards will take place in Los Angeles on March 28, 2019, with a guest list including the cast of Queer Eye, Shangela, and Jameela Jamil.