The 36-year-old pop princess was on hand in Los Angeles to accept the Vanguard Award for her work at promoting equality and acceptance as an ally to the LGBTQ+ community. And though she didn’t perform, her short but glorious acceptance speech alone left the energized audience at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in disarray.
“Britney broke the damn show! Everybody lost their minds!” host Wanda Sykes joked after Spears left the stage, adding that the crew backstage had emptied out to get a glimpse of Spears and that even the teleprompter had gone completely off the rails. “She broke the damn show!”
Spears herself appeared somewhat shocked and overwhelmed by the electric energy her appearance inspired.
“Wow. This is so incredibly amazing,” Spears said when taking the stage before launching into a speech about acceptance and inclusion, which she said she wrote herself. “I feel like our society has always put such an emphasis on what’s normal. And to be different is always seen as unusual or seen as strange. But to be accepted unconditionally and to be able to express yourself as an individual through art is such a blessing.”
“Events like this, the one we are attending here tonight, show the world that we’re not alone. We can all join hands together here and know that we are all beautiful. And we can lift each other up and show our gifts without hesitation,” Spears added.
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She concluded: “Being a mother has shown what it means to love unconditional. And you all in this room throughout my career have shown me what it means to be loved unconditionally. It’s such an honor to be here. Thank you so much GLAAD and thank you to the LGBTQ community and all my friends and fans. I love you very much. Thank you.”
Earlier in the evening, she sat with boyfriend Sam Asghari at a table in the ballroom’s main floor after posing for photos on the red carpet.
Spears wore a skin-showing, sparkly mini dress with cutouts and appliqué details. She paired the stunner with coordinating sparkling pumps.
“It’s Britney Bitch!” Kenworthy, 26, wrote on Instagram — sharing the same photo of the three. “Still so shook that Adam and I got to meet the queen, tonight. She told us we smelled good and all I could say back was ‘you do… too.’ Congrats on your Vanguard Award @britneyspears, I’m literally a slave 4 u!”
Prior to her speech, Spears was introduced by another famous face: Ricky Martin.
“Our ally, Britney Spears, she fights for acceptance in her own way,” the 46-year-old “She Bangs” singer said. “Britney is a multi-platinum Grammy award-winning pop icon. She could be one of those stars with a huge LGBTQ following that says nothing and does nothing, but instead she uses her platform to remind audiences around the globe and intolerance is unacceptable…. Britney made a significant difference in accelerating acceptance with LGBTQ people, and tonight I am honored to present it to an artist, a fighter, and a friend.”
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And if that weren’t enough, honoree Jim Parsons also paid tribute to Spears when he was accepting the Stephen F. Kolzak Award, explaining he used Spears’ 1998 track “…Baby One More Time” as a confidence booster when auditioning for grad schools.
“Thank you GLAAD, thank you for putting me in a room with Britney Spears,” he said. “I don’t know why Britney’s song and specifically that video was such an inspiration and a trigger point for me, I think that says a lot about me and my inner life, that I shouldn’t be sharing with a big group, but I do think this too, it’s important not to question those points of inspiration when they hit you, you just thank them. Thank you Britney.”