Janet Jackson was honoured with the Music Icon Award at OUT magazine’s OUT100 gala on Thursday night.
The Rhythm Nation star was presented with the award by staff at the magazine, which celebrates the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community, for her career achievements, and she took to the stage in a dramatic black dress and trouser ensemble to give a moving acceptance speech.
“Words are necessary and mine are few so I’m going to try and speak from my heart,” she said. “My heart says thank you, your appreciation means the world to me. My heart says thank you for being and having the courage to be who you are. Thank you for giving others the courage to be who they are.”
According to Entertainment Tonight, she continued by reflecting on the current state of the world, highlighting the prejudice, bigotry and bullying which exists even although diversity and differences should be celebrated.
“You’re so loving, so giving, so willing to let the world know that differences don’t matter,” she said to the audience. “Differences are beautiful, diversity is a gift. We’re all different, we’re all the same, we’re all vulnerable, we’re all in need of acceptance and encouragement.”
She then used lyrics to her 1997 track Together Again to finish her speech, saying, “I would like to say, everywhere I go, every smile I see, I know you are there, smiling back at me.”
Other honorees at the Out100 celebration were TV writers Lena Waithe and Jill Soloway, director John Waters, Will & Grace actor Sean Hayes, Arrested Development star Alia Shawkat, and Arrow’s Colton Haynes.
Jonathan Groff was named their Entertainer of Year while tennis star Billie Jean King won the Lifetime Achievement prize.