Troye Sivan held back tears during an acceptance speech at the GLAAD Media Awards in Los Angeles on Saturday, as he dedicated his award to LGBT activists throughout history.
He was the recipient of the Stephen F. Kolzak Award, which is awarded to openly LGBT figures who have worked to further the cause of LGBT rights. Past winners include Ruby Rose and John Waters.
Taking to the stage, Troye noted the importance of LGBT people being able to see images of themselves onscreen: “This award is so much larger than me. This moment is about visibility and about representation.
“What and who we see in the media defines our perception of the world around us so to see ourselves in this picture of what is normal and what is acceptable and what is beautiful is absolutely vital.”
Troye went on to honour the activists depicted in the David France documentary How to Survive a Plague, which charted the activism during the initial AIDS epidemic in New York City.
“I saw myself in these characters and the difference was that these people were attending a friend’s funeral on a weekly basis. This is in New York City, less than 40 years ago. They were fighting for medical treatment, they were fighting for visibility and they were fighting for their lives. It was a life or death situation.
“It was this kind of activism and sacrifice that paved the way for all of us to be here tonight.”
He dedicated his award to key figures in LGBT activism, namechecking Peter Staley, Marsha P Johnson, Sylvia Rivera and Gilbert Baker, who passed away a few days ago.
“I would like to share it with the warriors who made it possible but maybe didn’t get one for themselves.”
Troye also saluted the efforts of LGBT activists in the video for his song Heaven, released earlier this year.
Watch the full speech below: