Gabrielle Union, Dwyane Wade Advocate for Black LGBTQ+ Community at NAACP Image Awards

54th NAACP Image Awards - Press Room - Credit: Aaron J. Thornton/Getty Images For BET
54th NAACP Image Awards - Press Room - Credit: Aaron J. Thornton/Getty Images For BET

Gabrielle Union and Dwyane Wade — who received the 2023 NAACP’s President Award on Saturday during the organization’s Image Awards, which paid homage to their public service — advocated for the Black LGBTQ+ community during their acceptance speech.

Their daughter, Zaya Wade, is transgender. Wade spoke of her making him a “better human” as he opened the speech. She came out as trans in 2020.

More from Rolling Stone

“I want to take this moment to publicly speak to our daughter Zaya. As your father, all I’ve wanted to do is get it right. I’ve sat back and watch how gracefully you’ve taken on public scrutiny. And even though it’s not easy, I watched you walk out of the house every morning,” the former NBA superstar said. “I admire how you handle the ignorance in our world. I admire that you face every day.”

“To say that your village is proud of you is an understatement. Thank you for showing me that there’s more than just one way to communicate effectively. You’ve taught me that communication with my mouth isn’t enough,” he continued. “I have to also communicate with my two ears and to use my two eyes. As your father, my job isn’t to create a version of myself that directs your future. My role is to be a facilitator to your hopes, your wishes, your dreams.”

Union-Wade thanked the influential people in attendance who have led everyone through more than a century of “relentless challenge, pain, triumph and change,’ before she addressed that there are new challenges ahead and posed the question: “Will we fight for some or will we fight for all of our people?”

“Let’s just 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,” Union-Wade said. “Even as we demand equality at the top of our lungs, we consistently fail to extend our advocacy to protect some of our most vulnerable among us.

“And second, Black trans people are being targeted, terrorized and hunted in this country. Every day, everywhere. And there’s rarely a whisper about it,” she continued. “We honestly don’t approach this work as activists or leaders as much as we do this as parents — parents who love our children and will do whatever the hell we can to keep them seen and secure and safe.

“This is a conversation worth having in ways that can actually build bridges — that don’t fan the flames of hatred or division,” she added. “That don’t enable lawmakers or justice systems to look the other way when Black trans people are under attack.”

Union-Wade concluded with a look to the future. “We are hopeful that we may witness a real shift in the fight for justice: the moment the movement makes room for everyone — everyone.”

Best of Rolling Stone

Click here to read the full article.