Troye Sivan delivered a compelling speech at the GLAAD Media Awards Saturday night (April 1) in Beverly Hills, Calif., where he was honored with the Stephen F. Kolzak Award. In his remarks, Sivan thanked the LGBTQ media advocacy organization for the award, but dedicated it to the LGBTQ activists who paved the way for today’s advocates — including Peter Staley, Marsha P. Johnson, Sylvia Rivera, Bayard Rustin and Gilbert Baker.
“This award is so much larger than me,” Sivan said in his acceptance speech. “This moment is about visibility and about representation. What and who we see in the media defines our perception of the world around us, and so to see ourselves in this picture of what is ‘normal’ and what is acceptable and what is beautiful is absolutely vital. In saying that, so much of the work that has contributed to our progress as a community is far less glamorous than the work that I’m being honored for tonight.”
He went on to pay homage to David France’s 2012 documentary How to Survive a Plague, a film about the early years of the AIDS epidemic and the efforts of organizations like ACT UP (AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power) and TAG (Treatment Action Group): “Within the characters in the doc, I saw myself, and I saw my friends, and I saw my colleagues, and I saw my boyfriend. These kids were young, smart, active fighters. I saw that wit, that humor, that resilience that I’ve grown to love so much about my community.”
“The difference was that these people were attending a friend’s funeral on a weekly basis,” Sivan said. “This was in New York City, not even 40 years ago. They were fighting for medical treatment, for visibility, and they were fighting for their lives. It was a life or death situation.”
Sivan is the youngest recipient of the Stephen F. Kolzak honor from GLAAD, which is given to an LGBTQ media professional who has made a meaningful difference in promoting both equality and acceptance. The award was presented by Carly Rae Jepsen and Semi Precious Weapons frontman (and, as of this year, GLAAD board member) Justin Tranter.
“Though times and our needs may have changed, this ethos and spirit still persists in our community today,” he said in his speech, which can be watched exclusively below, before the GLAAD Media Awards air on Thursday, April 6 at 10 p.m. ET/PT on Logo.