Emotions get the best of everyone from time to time, even when you’re one of the world’s biggest stars. At the 30th annual GLAAD Media Awards in Los Angeles on Thursday night, Beyoncé was moved to tears accepting the Vanguard Award. Not only was the moment itself an honor for Beyoncé and her husband Jay-Z, but she also got the chance to dedicate the couple’s joint award to “the most fabulous gay man,” her Uncle Johnny.
Just before Beyoncé and Jay-Z took the stage, four unannounced presenters — Emmy-winning star Lena Waithe, transgender writer-producer-activist Janet Mock, HIV activist Morris Singletary and Beyoncé’s stylist Ty Hunter — took turns speaking about the husband-wife duo’s advocacy for and friendship to the LGBTQ community. So, when the couple took the stage to accept their award, they were understandably humbled. “First of all, I’m overwhelmed,” said Beyonce. “We were not expecting those incredible presenters. [I’m] just super honored and overwhelmed and I’m very proud of the run in my stockings from [cheering for] Shangela.”
During her remarks, Beyoncé got particularly teary-eyed when paying homage to her Uncle Johnny. “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,” she shared. “I’m hopeful that his struggle served to open pathways for other young people to live more freely. 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.”
— The Beyonce World (@thebeyworldcom) March 29, 2019
Beyoncé also touched on how music can be a platform for understanding and tolerance, saying of their recent OTR II tour, “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.” She continued, “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.”
In that vein, Beyoncé gave a nod to the man standing beside her for “making incredible strides toward changing stigmas in the hip hop community.” She was proud, she said, to watch her husband “take those steps and to stand right next to him.” Jay-Z acknowledged the strides he has made, pointing to his own family inspiration: his gay mother, Gloria Carter, who won the Vanguard Award last year. “I’m following in her footsteps of spreading love and acceptance,” he said, thanking his mom for contributing her “beautiful speech at the end of the song ‘Smile,’” for “allowing me to tell her story” and for “her strong message of love who you love.”
GLAAD announced in early March that Beyoncé and Jay-Z would receive the 2019 Vanguard Award, which is considered the biggest honor of the annual GLAAD Media Awards. The award is presented to allies who’ve made a significant difference in the lives of the LGBTQ community by promoting acceptance.