Approaching the stage to the couple’s 2003 hit “Crazy in Love,” the duo gave short, but heartfelt, speeches. Jay-Z spoke for less than two minutes, saying, “This journey is filled with highs, lows and a lot of learning.” He used his time to honor his mother Gloria Carter, a lesbian whose story was shared on Jay-Z’s “Smile,” and who received a Special Recognition at last year’s awards ceremony in New York.
Beyoncé said she was overwhelmed. “I would say that one of the most beautiful memories of my tour was looking out from the stage every night and seeing the hardest gangsta trappin’ right next to the most fabulous queen,” she said. “Respecting and celebrating each other.”
Someone from the audience shouted “That’s how we do!” – a sentiment Beyoncé then echoed back.
“We’re here to promote love for every human being,” Beyoncé continued. “And change starts with supporting the people closest to you. So let’s tell them they are loved. Let’s remind them that they are beautiful, let’s speak out and protect them. And parents, let’s love our kids in their truest form. … I’d like to request that we continue to shift the stigmas in this community, especially the stigmas in black families towards queer black and brown men and women.”
She dedicated the award to her uncle Johnny, who she called “the most fabulous gay man I’ve ever met.” “He lived his truth, he was brave and unapologetic during a time when this country wasn’t as accepting. And witnessing his battle with HIV was one of the most painful experiences I’ve ever lived,” she said, her voice choking up.
“I’m hopeful his struggles 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 …” she said, referencing her line in 2016’s “Formation” that was promptly overwhelmed by applause.
GLAAD also honored Will & Grace actor Sean Hayes, and gave awards to Netflix’s Queer Eye (Outstanding Reality Program), Starz show Vida (Outstanding Comedy Series) and Greg Berlanti-directed film Love, Simon (Outstanding Film – Wide Release). Lizzo opened the ceremony with a performance of her hit “Juice” where she ventured between the tables for the second verse and got the crowd hyped with a flute solo.
However, Shangela, a veteran of multiple seasons of RuPaul’s Drag Race, may have stolen the night with a seven-and-a-half-minute, well-rehearsed lip sync medley of Beyoncé songs. In knee-high boots, Shangela danced wildly to songs including “I Was Here,” “Partition,” “***Flawless,” “Baby Boy,” “Bootylicious” and “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It).” Beyoncé and Jay had huge smiles watching it. Quipped host Ross Mathews: “Shangela performing Beyoncé in front of Beyoncé … getting a standing ovation from Beyoncé. A gay vortex just opened up and we were all here to witness it.”
Beyoncé and Jay-Z were honored by a handful of speakers including HIV activist Morris Singletary, writer Janet Mock, Bey stylist Ty Hunter and The Chi creator Lena Waithe.
“Beyoncé shows us that ‘impossible’ doesn’t exist. And the status quo is only for those that lack imagination,” said Waithe. “For so many black LGBTQIA people, Beyoncé represents a light at the end of the tunnel. She’s a wonderful ally because she loves her fans no matter who they are, who they love or how they identify. Not only does she support the queer community, but she also keeps us employed. Choreographers, makeup artists, stylists.
“Thank you for not just being inspired by us, but thank you for including us on your team,” she added. “Both Beyoncé and Jay-Z proudly spoke out for marriage equality before it was the cool thing to do. And Jay-Z, when we heard your album 4:44, we all knew it was an instant classic, but the song “Smile” made it revolutionary. … “Smile” is more than just a song on the album, it’s a love letter to anyone that’s ever had to live their lives in the closet. It’s a modern- day negro spiritual reminding those in hiding that there’s still time to make their way to freedom.”