DeRay Mckesson of #BlackLivesMatter shares identity and protest with #glaadgala

One of the featured stories at the GLAAD Gala San Francisco at the Hilton San Francisco Union Square on Saturday was #BlackLivesMatter activist DeRay Mckesson, who talked about his activism, social media, and the intersection of being Black and gay. Empire star Jussie Smollett introduced the leader by saying, “He is a black man, he is a gay man, and his voice is changing the world."

Mckesson used his time on stage to talk about the start of the #BlackLivesMatter movement. "In those early days, we made two commitments. We made a commitment to stand today, and a commitment to fight tomorrow."

Mckesson then spoke about living his life openly and authentically as a Black gay man. "What I've learned, what I've lived, is that there is danger in the either/or," Mckesson said. "When loving myself only looks one way, when protests are in the street or not at all, this puts constraints on the way that we express ourselves and the way that we can get free."

"We have never been the voiceless," Mckesson stated. "We have been the unheard."

Mckesson ended by talking about social media, and Twitter specifically, as a tool that expanded the message of #BlackLiveMatter far beyond Ferguson, Missouri into a national movement. "Because of Twitter, I'll never forget how the Palestinians taught us what to do when we got tear gassed. Because of Twitter, we learned to fight against erasure," Mckesson said. "In this moment, we became the un-erased."

Watch his whole powerful video below:

The GLAAD Gala San Francisco honors innovators in the Bay Area who advance LGBT acceptance through tech and new media and also funds GLAAD's national advocacy work to rewrite the script to accelerate acceptance. The event also featured a special performance by Grammy Award-nominated recording artist and Selma star Ledisi.