On Thursday evening, Beyoncé and Jay Z took the stage at the Beverly Hilton hotel in Los Angeles to accept their joint Vanguard Award at the GLAAD Media Awards. When the honor was first announced earlier this month, the organization praised Bey and Jay for their work as allies to the LGBTQ community: Beyoncé has been supportive of marriage equality, featured LGBTQ couples in several of her recent music videos, and made Laverne Cox the face of her Ivy Park athleisure line, to name just a few examples, while Jay Z not only featured Janet Mock in his “Family Feud” video but also gave his mother, Gloria, the space and platform to come out with a speech at the end of his song “Smile,” which earned him a Special Recognition Award at the 2018 GLAAD Media Awards (accepted by Gloria on his behalf).
Before accepting their award on Thursday, the couple were introduced by Mock, Lena Waithe, and the stylist Ty Hunter, then were treated to a truly spectacular medley of Bey’s greatest hits from Shangela, the RuPaul’s Drag Race alum who recently featured in A Star Is Born. “We were not expecting those incredible presenters. [I’m] just super honored and overwhelmed, and I’m very proud of the run in my stocking from [cheering for] Shangela,” Beyoncé later said of the introduction, according to Entertainment Weekly.
In their joint acceptance speech, per EW, the Carters each thanked their family members and spoke about their commitment to ensuring equality and freedom for all. “Life is full of highs, lows, and a lot of learning,” Jay Z said. “This is a momentous night, and I also want—because I didn’t do it last year—to honor my mother, who received the award last year. I’m following in her footsteps of spreading love and acceptance.” He also thanked Gloria for her “beautiful speech at the end of the song ‘Smile,’” and for “allowing me to tell her story, so I want everyone to acknowledge that and her strong message of ‘Love who you love.’”
Beyoncé then thanked the LGBTQ community for their continued support of her and her husband. “I would say that one of the most beautiful memories from our tour was looking out from the stage every night and seeing the hardest gangsters trappin’ out right next to the most fabulous queens, respecting and celebrating each other. And that’s the duty of my partnership, connecting people who at first glance seem worlds apart. And whether it’s friends or family, the LGBTQ community has always supported us and lifted us up,” she said.
“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 that 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. I hope that we continue to shift the stigmas in this community, especially the stigmas in black families,” she continued.
She went on to dedicate the award to her uncle Johnny, “the most fabulous gay man, who helped raise me and my sister….He lived his truth. He was brave and unapologetic during a time when this country was not 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,” she said, holding back tears. “LGBTQI 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.”
At the end of the address, Beyoncé gave one last shout-out to her husband. “I just want to say to you, Jay, that I’m so proud of you for making incredible strides toward changing stigmas in the hip-hop community. It’s a privilege to watch you take those steps and to stand right next to you. I love you,” she said, before telling the audience, “We’re super grateful and honored. Thank y’all!”
Watch clips from the emotional speech, below.