Beyoncé has revealed that losing her ‘Uncle Johnny’ to HIV was one of the “most painful experiences” of her life.
The music icon gave an emotional speech alongside husband Jay-Z while the pair accepted the Vanguard Award during the 30th Annual GLAAD Media Awards on Thursday.
Beyoncé dedicated the award to “Uncle Johnny, the most fabulous gay man I’ve ever known who helped raise me and my sister.”
She continued: “‘Witnessing his battle with HIV was one of the most painful experiences I’ve ever lived. I’m hopeful that his struggles served to open pathways for other young people to live more freely.”
Noting that “LGBTQI rights are human rights,” the singer and actress then spoke about the support she’s received from her LGBTQ fans.
“Whether it’s our fans or our family, the LGBTQI community has always supported us and lifted us up. And we thank you for that,” she said. “We are here to promote love for every human being, and change starts with supporting the people closest to you. So let’s tell them they are loved, let’s remind them they are beautiful, and parents, let’s love our kids in their truest form.”
Beyoncé again reiterated her commitment to LGBTQ rights at the end of her speech, saying, “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!”
During his speech, Jay-Z paid tribute to his mother, Gloria Carter, who is lesbian. He thanked Carter for teaching him strong values, saying, “I’m following in her footsteps of spreading love and acceptance.”
Watch Beyoncé and Jay-Z speak below: