Troye Sivan may have been the youngest person to receive GLAAD’s Stephen F. Kolzak Award but he has one of strongest senses of LGBTI history of any honoree.
The 21-year-old music artist paid beautiful tribute – by name – to some of the activists who came before him including Rainbow Flag creator Gilbert Baker who died last week.
‘This award is so much larger than me,’ Sivan told the crowd at the 28th annual GLAAD Media Awards in Los Angeles on Saturday (1 April). ‘So much of the work that has contributed to our progress as a community is far less glamorous than what I’m being honored for here tonight.
‘While I’m so grateful and thankful to have this award, I would like to share it with with the warriors who made it possible but maybe didn’t get one for themselves.’
Sivan named Edie Windsor whose Supreme Court case gutted the Defense of Marriage Act and Marsha P. Johnson and Silvia Rivera who founded a transgender rights group in the 1970s and are considered ‘the godmothers of the Stonewall Riots.’
He also said: ‘This is for Bayard Rustin, an openly gay civil rights leader who worked alongside Martin Luther King Jr. and was largely written out of history as a result of homophobia.’
Sivan paid special tribute to AIDS activist Peter Staley whose story was among those most prominently featured in the Oscar nominated 2012 documentary How to Survive a Plague.
‘Peter was one of the driving forces behind ACT UP, the founder of (TAG) and personal hero of mine,’ said the honoree.
‘About a year ago, I watched a documentary called How to Survive a Plague … about the early days of the AIDS epidemic and the efforts of organizations like ACT UP and The Treatment Action Group (TAG). Within the characters of the (documentary) I saw myself and I saw my friends and I saw my colleagues and I saw my boyfriends.
‘These kids were young, smart, active fighters. I saw that wit and that humor and that resilience that I’ve grown to love so much about my community. They were just like my friends and I.
‘I saw myself in these characters but the difference was that these people were attending a friend’s funeral on a weekly basis. This was in New York City not ever 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 sacrifice and activism that paved the way for all of us to be here tonight.’
The Stephen F. Kolzak Award which is presented to an LGBTI media professional who has made a significant difference in promoting equality and acceptance.
Sivan appears to be doing just that at such a young age.