5 Memorable Beyoncé Moments from the GLAAD Media Awards

Beyoncé and husband Jay-Z made friends for life with the LGBTQ community Thursday at the GLAAD Media Awards in Los Angeles.

The recording duo was presented with the Vanguard Award, an honor given to community allies who take a public stand against homophobia and other forms of hate.

Significantly, it’s hard to imagine a more popular couple in hip-hop. And, just as importantly, that genre and rap still remain havens for those who disparage the LGBTQ community in lyrics and interviews.

What did Queen B say last night that warmed hearts and soothed minds?

First, she said, “We would like to request that we continue to shift the stigmas in this community, especially the stigmas in black families towards accepting queer black and brown men and women around the world.”

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Then she and her husband took turns acknowledging the lasting positive impact that gay people have had on their lives. Particularly for Jay-Z, the matter couldn’t be more personal. His mother Gloria Carter accepted the Vanguard Award last year. Her coming out as lesbian was as public as it gets: She told her personal story of “living in the shadows” at the end of a Jay-Z track called “Smile” on his album 4:44.

Pausing before the hushed ballroom filled with LGBTQ power brokers, the rapper paid his respects. “I get to follow in her footsteps for spreading love and acceptance,” he said. “And her beautiful speech at the end of the song, ‘Smile,’ and for allowing me to tell her story.”

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Love Is Love

Then it was his wife’s turn. Beyoncé thanked her late Uncle Johnny, a gay man challenged with HIV. The singer said that the love she and her sister Solange shared with him was profound — and rooted in respect.

According to Beyoncé, her uncle “lived his truth” and “was brave and unapologetic during a time when this country wasn’t as accepting.” Referencing his health concerns and HIV struggles, she said witnessing him cope was “one of the most painful experiences I’ve ever lived.”

Then she added that “his struggles serve to open pathways for other young people to live more freely. LGBTQI rights are human rights.” Those in attendance cheered.

“To choose who you love is your human right. How you identify and see yourself is your human right.”

The GLAAD gala annually honors media outlets and personalities for fair, accurate and inclusive representations of LGBTQ people and issues.

Will & Grace actor Sean Hayes was also honored at the ceremony and his acceptance speech raised a few eyebrows. To the delight of many, he first suggested that the GLAAD Media Awards might be Mike Pence’s worst nightmare — or a dream come true. “We will never know,” he quipped.

His remarks about embattled gay Empire actor Jussie Smollett drew a much more mixed response. “I’ve been getting in shape for tonight with the Jussie Smollet workout,” joked the actor. “You hire two trainers and sweat for 8 weeks.”

Hayes also acknowledged the rather awkward fact that he was the last member of the Will & Grace cast actually receive an award from GLAAD: “The gay one.”

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Kevin Phinney

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