Members and allies of the LGBTQ community recently gathered for the 2017 GLSEN Respect Awards, which served as a call to action amid recent anti-LGBTQ policies put in place by the Trump administration.
Among them was none other than “Scandal” star Kerry Washington, Zendaya, and DC Entertainment. But no one quite stole the show like Washington, who delivered a fiery speech following her acceptance of the Inspiration Award.
“Sometimes I feel as if we are living through a horrific dream,” began Washington, during her acceptance speech. “It is a communal nightmare. The flames of terror and exclusion are being ignited by some of our most powerful leaders. These people who have been entrusted with the protection of our rights, the rights of all of us, the rights of we the people, have chosen instead to traffic in hate. We’ve gone from a White House lit in all the colors of pride to a White House that literally preaches division and discrimination. And so sometimes I worry because the stakes are high and fear is rampant.”
Still, Washington, who was introduced by her “onscreen bae” Tony Goldwyn, went on to reveal that she hasn’t lost hope and truly believes in the promise of the country’s youth. “We need to make sure we don’t get in the way, but that we help them clear the way,” she declared. “You are our truest leaders. You point us out of this nightmare and towards that more perfect union. And with your leadership, tonight more than ever before, I know that we will get there.”
A member of that generation, special honoree Zendaya, who was bestowed with the organization’s Gamechanger Award, also had a few words to share, telling EW that she “wants people to know me for more than just the last project I did,” the actress said, before urging her fans to “understand the power of your voice.”
“I have this platform that I’m standing on, and sometimes when you get there, you realize that your purpose is not to stand up there anymore but to get off and let someone else stand on it,” she proclaimed. “That’s what I will continue to do and continue to push. To every student that is here, I want you to know that I admire you. This award is really for us. Because we are the game-changers. We are the ones who are literally changing the game. We are not playing.”