It was no surprise when Beyonce became the recipient of the GLAAD Vanguard Award in 2019. Beyonce’s work for the queer community is highly commendable – not only is her discography inescapable at gay bars around the world, but the superstar has also made her love and advocacy for the LGBTQ community abundantly clear. This time, she leveled up, in her speech to the Class of 2020. Beyoncé encouraged graduates to be unabashedly themselves.
“If you’re part of a group that’s called ‘other’ — a group that does not get the chance to be center stage — build your own stage, and make them see you, Your queerness is beautiful, your blackness is beautiful, your compassion, your understanding, your fight for people who may be different from you is beautiful.”
– Beyonce to the Class of 2020, as part of the Obamas’ “Dear Class of 2020” livestream
Obamas’ “Dear Class of 2020”
The full ceremony, which has been viewed over 8 million times since it went up on YouTube on Sunday, also featured Lady Gaga, Taylor Swift, Stephen Colbert, and Malala Yousafzai and performances by BTS, Chloe x Halle and Mariah Carey. All the personas gave their messages loud and clear. They all agree that the pandemic brought into focus problems that were growing for a very long time. Whether it’s widening economic inequality, the lack of basic healthcare for millions of people, the continuing scourge of bigotry and sexism, or the divisions and dysfunctions that plague our political system. Moreover, all of these problems will be addressed to move beyond. Since a new world awaits, the current scenario reminds us that we can’t take things for granted. Together, We can work to make things better.
Sad to have missed your graduation ceremony due to #COVID19? If so, watch @YouTube's “#DearClassOf2020,″ a virtual commencement celebration that brought together the #Obamas, #Beyonce, #LadyGaga, @BTS_twt, and many more to celebrate your special day! https://t.co/qq4E5G9YrZ pic.twitter.com/0UheP1BzXE
— U.S. Embassy Seoul (@USEmbassySeoul) June 8, 2020
Beyonce’s support for the community
In a 2011 interview with Pride Source, the superstar acknowledged the difficulty of coming out and said that she was in awe of her gay fans. She supports the confidence and fearlessness it takes to do the unexpected or different to the social norms – to be brave, be different, and to be one’s self. Moreover, Beyonce’s support does not stop with her fans. The singer has worked with and uplifted several queer artists. Singer-songwriter MNEK worked with Queen Bey on her track “Hold Up” and told Pitchfork that working with the superstar was a stamp of validation. She’s shown out-and-out love for R&B star Frank Ocean as well, whom she has worked with twice (on her song “Superpower” and his track “Pink + White”) and who she openly supported after he publicly came out as bisexual.
Beyonce on Black Lives Matter
“You have arrived, here in the middle of a global crisis, a racial pandemic. After all this, you still made it….To the young kings, lean into your vulnerability and redefine masculinity, Lead with heart. I hope you go into the world and show them that you will never stop being yourself, that it’s your time now. Make them see you.”
– Beyonce to the Class of 2020
Beyoncé congratulated the graduates on their perseverance through the coronavirus pandemic and paid homage to the #BlackLivesMatter movement. Adding to that, she addressed the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery, whose names have rung through the streets as part of the recent mass protests against racism and police brutality. She voiced about her own experiences of exclusion as a black woman entering a white and male-dominated entertainment industry. Finally in her speech, she spoke directly to black graduates, encouraging them to push on through difficult times and make “power moves.”
— Meghan Thee Duchess 🛡🌸 (@SussexHive) June 7, 2020
Message for the LGBTQ Community
Along with Beyonce, entertainer Billy Porter shared an inspiring message for the LGBTQ Class of 2020 during YouTube Virtual Commencement. Following him, Billie Eilish, Jennifer Lopez, Demi Lovato, Chloe X Halle, and Katy Perry gave words of advice. Not only that, but the ceremonies also offered a variety of non-musical heavy hitters. This list included YouTube stars, late-night hosts, and major tech company CEOs.
“I want to talk to the LGBTQ class of 2020. For many of you, school is not just a place to go. It is a place where you learn to lean into your authenticity. I’m so proud of you all. I’m talking to the allies out there as well. Thank you. As you embark on your lives, know that love is the answer. Leading with that, always, is how we make change in this world, and how we make it for good.”
– Billy Porter to the Class of 2020, as part of the Obamas’ “Dear Class of 2020” livestream
You can watch the full replay of the video here: