Gabrielle Union-Wade and Dwyane Wade gave an inspiring speech in support of transgender rights and their trans daughter Zaya while accepting the President’s Awards at the 54th annual NAACP Image Awards over the weekend.
Wade has been an outspoken advocate since his daughter Zaya came out a couple of years ago. Zaya legally changed her name and gender last week. Union, Zaya's stepmother, has also been a powerful advocate herself.
NAACP president and CEO Derrick Johnson told Variety at the awards, “I love the way they stood up and are standing up for their child. He added, “We have five kids — for me it’s very significant for a father to stand strong, a mother to stand strong in support of their child.“
\u201cThank you to the @naacpimageaward and the @NAACP. We are honored to be the recipients of the President\u2019s Award. \ud83d\ude4f\ud83c\udffe #NAACPImageAwards\u201d
Speaking directly to his daughter, Wade said: “Zaya, as your father, all I’ve wanted to do is to get it right.
“I’ve sat back and watched how gracefully you’ve taken on the public’s scrutiny. And even though it’s not easy, I watched you walk out of that house every morning…as yourself. I admire how you’ve handled the ignorance in our world. I admire…that you face every day. To say that your village is proud of you is an understatement.”
He thanks her, too for teaching him that “communication with my mouth isn’t enough, I have to also communicate with my two ears and my two eyes.”
“As your father, my job isn’t to create a version of myself or direct your future. My role is to be a facilitator to your hopes, your wishes, and your dreams. Zaya, you’ve made me a better human just simply by being who you were born to be — a baby girl, Zaya Wade," Wade said. "So baby, thank you for showing the world what courage looks like. I’m proud that I was chosen to stand in place as your father and thank you so much NAACP for this incredible honor.”
After Wade, Union began her speech by recognizing the history of the NAACP.
Union said it was humbling to be on that stage “surrounded by friends and heroes, OGs and icons, all working to advance the lives of black people.” She said the organization has, for over a century, led through “relentless challenge, pain, triumph, and change, and now stands with us again, at the foot of a very new era of activism, a new era that demands our collective answer to one simple question. Will we fight for some…or will we fight for all of our people?”
\u201cAs my own father fights for his life in the hospital, I had to remember that he raised 3 fighters & I fought to get thru the speech. Once D said the word "father" I just broke. Thank yall for showing me grace tonight \u2764\ufe0f\u201d
Union then went on to “name a couple of hard truths:” “First, the intersection of Black rights and the rights of the LGBTQIA trans and gender non-conforming people continues to be rough — that’s a huge understatement. Even as we demand equality at the top of our lungs, we consistently failed to extend our advocacy to protect some of our most vulnerable among us.”
Second, she spoke about the dangers that Black trans people face.
“Black trans people are being targeted, terrorized, and hunted in this country, every day everywhere…and there’s rarely a whisper about it,” Union said.
Speaking for herself and for her husband, she said “We honestly don’t approach this work as activists or leaders, but as much as we do this as parents, as parents who love our children and would do — will do, whatever the hell we can to keep them seen and secure and safe.”
Union-Wade added: “This is a conversation worth having in ways that can actually build bridges, right? That don’t fan the flames of hatred or division, that don’t enable lawmakers or justice systems to look the other way when Black trans people are under attack.” She paused, then said, “That don’t drive more young people to hate themselves or harm themselves…that don’t cost people their lives!”
“So we are humbled,” she concluded, “and we are hopeful for the future. I am hopeful—we are hopeful—that we may witness a real shift, in the fight for justice, the moment the movement makes room for everyone. Everyone. Thank you.”
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