The actress’ rousing speech addressed human rights, diversity in Hollywood and gender equality, which brought the crowd to its feet several times throughout her remarks.
“When I was told that I was going to get an award for being an ally to GLAAD, it got me thinking,” she said to the crowd, which included
“I’m going to say some stuff and I might be preaching to the choir, but I’m going to say it. Not just for us, but because on Monday morning people are going to click a link to hear what that woman from ‘Scandal’ said at that award show, and so, I think some stuff needs to be said,” Washington told the audience to thunderous applause.
“Women, poor people, people of color, people with disabilities, gay men, lesbians, bisexuals, trans people, intersex people — we have been pitted against each other and made to feel there are limited seats at the table for those of us who fall into the category of ‘other.’ As a result, we have become afraid of one another,” said Washington.
“We compete with one another, we judge one another. Sometimes, we betray one another. Sometimes even within our own communities we designate who among us is best suited to represent us and who really shouldn’t even be invited to the party,” she said.
Referencing DeGeneres’ 1997 coming out, Washington said, “Just thirty years before that, the Supreme Court was deciding that the ban against interracial marriage was unconstitutional. Up until then, heterosexual people of different races couldn’t marry who they wanted to marry either.”
The actress said the similarities between interracial marriages and the on-going same sex marriage battles leave her baffled. “When black people today tell me that they don’t believe in gay marriage… the first thing that I say is ‘please don’t let anybody try to get you to vote against your own best interest by feeding you messages of hate.’ Then I say ‘you know people used to say stuff like that about you and your love.'”
The Emmy-nominated star and new mother concluded with a plea to the entertainment industry urging more diverse hires on every level.
“We need more employment of LGBT people in front of and behind the camera,” she said.