The Beverly Hilton was buzzing like a Bey hive Thursday night as the audience waited for Beyonce and Jay-Z to descend from the heavens to accept the Vanguard Award at the 30th Annual GLAAD Media Awards. When the couple took the stage, the room was immediately emotionally charged as the two praised the LGBTQ community and shared their own personal experiences.
But before they took the stage, RuPaul’s Drag Race all-star Shangela, who also can be seen in the Academy Award-nominated A Star is Born, lit up the stage in one of the most electrifying one-woman Beyonce tributes. Performing a 7-minute medley of Beyonce’s greatest hits with a crew of thirst trap-worthy dancers, she slayed the stage as Beyonce and Jay-Z soaked up every single minute of it.
After the smoke cleared from Shangela’s performance, HIV activist Morris Singletary, advocate and Pose director & writer Janet Mock, Beyonce’s long-time stylist and friend Ty Hunter and Emmy-award winning writer Lena Waithe took the stage one by one to sing the praises of the duo — not just their general greatness, but how their support for the LGBTQ community and the marginalized has inspired them. Waithe called them “the most powerful black couple” and then joked they might have to fight the Obamas for that title.
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Watching @itsshangela lip sync for her legacy in a one-woman tribute in front of @beyonce at the #GLAADAwards is all I ever wanted in life. Hearing Beyonce and #JayZ accept the Vanguard Award for being the great allies they are was even better. @glaad #LGBTQ #SlayWerqRepeat
During Jay-Z’s speech he praised his mother, who came out as a lesbian on the groundbreaking track “Smile” from his album 4:44. “I get to follow in her footsteps for spreading love and acceptance and her beautiful speech at the end of the song — and for allowing me to tell her story,” he said. Jay-Z received a GLAAD Special Recognition Award last year for the song and the music video.
When Beyonce spoke she shared her husband’s sentiment, spreading love and said that “Change starts with supporting people closest to you.” She encouraged people to speak out and protect those who are marginalized and asked for parents to love their kids in their truest form.
“We would like to request that we continue to shift the stigmas in this community,” she said. “Especially the stigmas in black families towards accepting queer black and brown men and women around the world.”
As she continued, she got emotional as she dedicated the award to her Uncle Johnny, who she called “The most fabulous gay man I ever knew who helped raise her and her sister Solange.
“He lived his truth; he was brave and unapologetic during a time when this country wasn’t as accepting — witnessing his battle with HIV was one of the most painful experiences I’ve ever lived,” she shared.
“I am hoping that his struggles serve to open pathways for other young people to live more freely,” she continued. “LGBTQI rights are human rights. To choose who you love is your human right. How you identify and see yourself is your human right.”
She added, “Who you make love to and take that ass to Red Lobster is your human right” which was met with uproarious hoots, hollers and applause from the crowd.
Beyonce then turned to Jay-Z and praised him for making incredible strides in advocating the LGBTQ in the hip-hop community, which has a history of being homophobic.
“It is a privilege to watch you take those steps and to stand right next to you,” she said.
Watch a segment of Beyonce and Jay-Z’s speech above.