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Beyoncé pays tribute to “fabulous gay man who helped raise me and my sister”

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Kayleigh Dray
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LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 09: (EDITORS NOTE: Retransmission with alternate crop.) Beyonce and Jay-Z attend 2019 Roc Nation THE BRUNCH on February 9, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for Roc Nation )

“Witnessing his battle with HIV was one of the most painful experiences I’ve ever lived,” she said in an emotionally-charged speech at the 2019 GLAAD Media Awards  

Beyoncé and Jay-Z were overwhelmed to be presented with the Vanguard Award at the 30th annual GLAAD Media Awards in Los Angeles. And, in a powerful joint acceptance speech, the pair made a point of preaching a message of LGBTQ+ love and acceptance.

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Looking out into the crowd, Beyoncé said: “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.

“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 they we continue to shift the stigmas in this community, especially the stigmas in black families.”

Beyoncé went on to dedicate the award to her Uncle Johnny, who she said was “the most fabulous gay man, who helped raise me and my sister”. 

“He lived his truth,” she said. “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. 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 Lemonade singer then turned to her husband and thanked him “for making incredible strides toward changing stigmas in the hip hop community,” adding that she was proud “to watch him take those steps and to stand right next to him.”

Whilst on stage, Jay Z spoke about his mother Gloria, who is also a GLAAD Award recipient. 

“Life is full of highs, lows, and a lot of learning,” he 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.” 

The rapper, who released a track about his mother’s LGBTQ+ journey last year, also thanked his “mama” 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.”

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The Vanguard Award is presented to allies who have made a significant difference in promoting acceptance of LGBTQ+ people. 

Explaining why Beyoncé and Jay-Z had been selected as the recipients of the 2019 award, GLAAD president and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis said that they are “global icons and passionate defenders of human rights and acceptance for all people.”

Ellis continued: “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.”

Amen to that.

Image: Getty

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Kayleigh Dray

Kayleigh Dray is editor of Stylist.co.uk, where she chases after rogue apostrophes and specialises in films, comic books, feminism and television. On a weekend, you can usually find her drinking copious amounts of tea and playing boardgames with her friends. 

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