Meet the Black LGBTQ trailblazers who presented Beyoncé & JAY-Z's Vanguard Award

At last evening’s 30th Annual GLAAD Media Awards in Los Angeles, Beyoncé and JAY-Z were honored with the prestigious Vanguard Award, which is presented to allies who have made a significant difference in promoting acceptance of LGBTQ people. The power couple brought the crowd to their feet with incredibly powerful, emotional and personal speech about love and acceptance for the LGBTQ communuty. Before accepting, Beyoncé & JAY-Z was introduced by four incredible black LGBTQ trailblazers, who each shared how the couple has accelerated acceptance for the LGBTQ community, while also sharing their own inspiring stories. Meet the four presenters below:

The first presenter, Morris Singletary, is an HIV/AIDS advocate from Atlanta, who works with GLAAD and Gilead’s COMPASS Initiative. Morris spoke about being diagnosed with HIV and how Beyoncé and JAY-Z inspired him to become and activist: “And when I realized I wanted to dedicate my life to ensuring people with HIV get proper treatment so they can’t pass it on but can lead long, healthy lives, I looked to Beyoncé’s unending work ethic and her unending love for her fans and her kids to gain inspiration."

Talking about the power couple, Morris stated "Beyoncé and JAY-Z concerts are like world peace is happening – it’s gay, straight, black, white, and everyone is dancing and singing together. Those concerts are a place where everyone is safe and accepted. Could you imagine if the world was one big Beyoncé and JAY-Z concert? What a wonderful world that would be.”

Trans writer, producer, and director Janet Mock took the stage second and delievered one of the most powerful moments of the night when she discussed how Beyoncé inspired her: “Beyonce, watching you evolve as an artist and an icon, a mother and a feminist, and a public black woman on the world stage who wields her voice like a weapon against racism, sexism and injustice, offered me a blueprint to do the same.”

Janet continued with a discussion of her role in JAY-Z’s ‘Family Feud’ video, directed by Ava DuVernay: “As a black trans woman who acknowledges that the life expectancy of my sisters is a young 35….who’s own womanhood and humanity is often questioned…who resists an administration aiming to erase us, to be included in the future, as a Founding Mother, was a vital intervention to a worldwide audience that LGBTQ people are deserving of being seen, heard and affirmed.”

Next, Beyoncé's long-time stylist Ty Hunter came and surpirsed the couple. He said, "I learned so much from Beyoncé Knowles Carter. She has shown me that you can be successful and still be humble. She carries herself with confidence, and taught me that I should also be proud of myself and my talent. The way I look, you hear things behind your back. But Bey said “Own it.” I do. I believe our entire community takes that lesson to heart." 

Ty continued his praised of Beyoncé & JAY-Z: "I know y’all are excited to see her and Jay tonight, but they’re not doing this for attention. They’re here because they believe in acceptance. Not only was Jay totally accepting of me and all the other LGBTQ people on our team, he is creating a space for other straight men, especially black men, to feel the same way.”

LGBTQ trailblazer and GLAAD Media Award-winner Lena Waithe closed the presentation with inspiring words about what Beyoncé & JAY-Z mean to the LGBTQ community: “Just your presence in this room tonight is revolutionary. Because right now you’re telling the world that the two most powerful Black people on the planet (you can duke it out with Michelle and Barack over that one, okay?) – but two magnificent Black people want the world to know they love, respect and accept the LGBTQ community – and that it’s the right thing to do.

Lena continued, "Tonight Black LGBTQ youth in the U.S. South, in Africa, and all over should hold their heads up a little higher and know they are loved just as they are. I thank both of you for shining that light.”

The 30th Annual GLAAD Media Awards continue in New York City on Saturday, May 4th. GLAAD previously announced that Madonna will receive the Advocate for Change Award and Andy Cohen will receive the Vito Russo Award from Sarah Jessica Parker at the New York ceremony. Other special guests include Don Lemon, cast members of Pose and Samantha Bee.

The 30th Annual GLAAD Media Awards are supported by Presenting Partners Delta Air Lines, Gilead, Hyundai, Ketel One Family-Made Vodka, and Wells Fargo. GLAAD is also grateful to: Official Partners Bud Light and Google; Titanium Partner AT&T and WEN; Platinum Partners Comcast NBCUniversal-Telemundo, Creative Artists Agency, Disney ABC Television Group, Facebook/Instagram, HBO, Hulu, Kaiser Permanente, MetLife, NBA & WNBA, Netflix, Omnicom Group, PRG, Sheppard Mullin, Turner; Gold Partners CBS/Showtime, Nielsen, PWC, UM, Univision, and VER; and Silver Partners Allstate, Coca-Cola, Morgan Stanley, and Warner Bros.

To receive the latest updates on the GLAAD Media Awards, follow @glaad on Twitter and use the hashtag #glaadawards.