Britney Spears is widely regarded as a gay icon, a status that was cemented on Thursday night. At the GLAAD Media Awards, the pop superstar received the Vanguard Award at the ceremony, and Spears' GLAAD acceptance speech was a powerful message of inclusivity and unconditional love.
Introduced by Ricky Martin, who praised Spears for using her voice to "remind audiences around the globe that intolerance is unacceptable," the blonde singer took the stage and kept her remarks short but moving. She said,
"I feel like our society has always put such an emphasis on what's normal, and to be different or unusual is seen as strange. But to be accepted unconditionally and to be able to express yourself as an individual through art is such a blessing."
"Events like this, the one we are attending here tonight, show the world that we are not alone," the singer continued. "We can all join hands together here and know that we are all beautiful, and we can lift each other up and show our gifts without hesitation."
Spears, who is 36, also mentioned what being a parent has taught her about love, and thanked her gay fans for their unwavering support. "Being a mother has shown me what it means to love unconditionally and you all in this room have shown me throughout my career what it means to be loved unconditionally."
Spears, who recently signed a deal to begin a new Las Vegas residency at the Monte Carlo Resort in 2019, also met up with two of her biggest fans, Olympians Adam Rippon and Gus Kenworthy. Kenworthy, a snowboarder, and Spears both shared photos of the encounter on Instagram. He was particularly starstruck, writing in the caption, "She told us we smelled good and all I could say back was 'you do... too.'"
Figure skater Rippon had been hoping he might run into Spears. Earlier in the evening, he tweeted that he was on his way to the ceremony and was thinking about Spears' beloved Instagram fashion shows.
The "Work B*tch" singer is a fan, too, and tweeted her fondness for Rippon in February during the Winter Olympic Games, wishing him good luck.
Rippon responded, "I now have an OVERWHELMING desire to post Instagram fashion shows, google stock imagines of corn, and paint on the balcony of my dorm in the Olympic village," referring to the musician's various Instagram posts. "Thank you for not being in denial, LOVE YOU".
Other attendees were excited that Spears was there, too. Karamo Brown, from Netflix's Queer Eye, posed like the singer while he presented, and The Big Bang Theory star Jim Parsons credited her with giving him much-needed confidence right before a big audition for graduate school.
The music video for her song, "...Baby One More Time," came on TV, and Parsons watched her "dance-walk down that school hallway in that Catholic school uniform with those cute little pigtails ... And I remember feeling this sense of 'Oh yeah, that’s it. You can do it. You go out there and do it like Britney,' and you get it."
Over the years, Spears has shown her support for the LGBTQ community in numerous ways, from standing with trans youth in Texas in the face of discriminatory legislation, to penning a letter to a suicidal fan who said her music helped save his life in 2014. According to Mic, the fan wrote on Instagram, "Thank you for everything Britney. I wouldn't be able to be so confident and open about my sexuality if your music and you didn't help me."
Spears is an undeniable force in the music industry and whose career boasts impressive longevity — her debut album came out in 1999. And with this speech, she demonstrated her continued desire to use her platform to speak out against injustice and promote acceptance.