The Vanguard Award is presented to allies who have made a significant difference in promoting acceptance of LGBTQ people. Previous honorees include Cher, Elizabeth Taylor, Charlize Theron, Jennifer Aniston, Janet Jackson, Jennifer Lopez, Kerry Washington, Patricia Arquette, and last year’s recipient Britney Spears.
“Beyoncé and Jay- Z are global icons and passionate defenders of human rights and acceptance for all people,” said GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis. “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. 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.”
Beyonce and Jay-Z have been long-time allies to LGBTQ people. Beyonce is a deity to the LGBTQ community and has collaborated with LGBTQ artists including Big Freedia and Frank Ocean. In addition, she has shown her support for marriage equality and has spoken against anti-LGBTQ laws. She also dedicated her performance of “Halo” to the victims and survivors of the Orlando Pulse nightclub shooting during “The Formation World Tour.” Ivy Park, her athleisure clothing line, showcased transgender actress Laverne Cox as one of the featured faces in one of the brand’s promos.
Jay-Z’s advocacy shined bright on the track “Smile” from his album 4:44. The song marked the first time his mother Gloria Carter revealed that she was a lesbian with the rapper opening up about her sexuality. He received a GLAAD Special Recognition Award last year for the song and the music video. It was a groundbreaking moment for an iconic hip hop artist like Jay Z to share his personal connection to the LGBTQ community in a genre that is often seen as homophobic. LGBTQ leader and Pose writer and director Janet Mock was featured in the video for “Family Feud” which was directed by Ava DuVernay. The video also opens with a quote from iconic gay writer James Baldwin.
GLAAD previously announced 151 nominees for the 30th Annual GLAAD Media Awards in 27 categories. They also announced that Madonna will receive the Advocate for Change Award at the ceremony in New York City. Will & Grace‘s Sean Hayes will receive the Stephen F. Kolzak Award during the Los Angeles event. Ross Mathews is set to host the L.A. ceremony, which will also feature special guests Netflix’s cast of the Queer Eye, Allison Janney, Jameela Jamil, Nico Santos, Shangela, and Dan Reynolds of Imagine Dragons.
The 30th Annual GLAAD Media Awards New York will be held in Los Angeles at the Beverly Hilton in Los Angeles March 28. The New York City ceremony will be held on May 4.