Dwyane Wade and Gabrielle Union-Wade used their platform at this year’s NAACP Image Awards to advocate for the black LGBTQ community and to praise their transgender daughter Zaya for her bravery.
After accepting the president’s award Saturday at Pasadena’s Civic Auditorium, the former pro basketball player and “Truth Be Told” actor gave an impassioned, rousing speech that was widely praised on social media.
Wade started the speech by directly addressing his daughter and Union-Wade’s stepdaughter, Zaya, who came out as transgender in 2020. After the NBA star credited Zaya for making him “a better person” by being who she was “born to be,” Union-Wade spoke passionately about the struggles and rights of the Black LGBTQ community.
“As my own father fights for his life in the hospital, I had to remember he raised 3 fighters and I fought to get through the speech,” Union-Wade tweeted after the show.
“Once D said the word ‘father’, I just broke. Thank you all for showing mercy tonight.
Read the Hollywood power couple’s full NAACP Image Awards speech below.
Wading: Thanks guys for that ovation. We are not alone here, because we know it takes a village. It takes a community. We stand here today as two people who worked tirelessly to get resources and access. As two people willing to use our microphones for what we believe and what other families are going through.
I am intentional when I use my platform. I recognize what has been given to me, and it is my job to raise the voice of others and share my access and resources. I want to take this moment to speak publicly with our daughter Zaya. Zaya, as your father, I just wanted to get it right. I sat back and saw how gracefully you took public control. And even though it’s not easy, I watched you walk out of the house every morning feeling like yourself.
I admire how you have dealt with the ignorance in our world… that you face every day. To say your village is proud of you is an understatement. Thank you for showing me that there is more than one way to communicate effectively. You taught me that communicating with my mouth is not enough. I also have to communicate with my two ears and my two eyes.
As your father, it’s not my job to create a version of myself or direct your future. My role is to be a facilitator for your hopes, your wishes, your dreams. Zaya, you made me a better person simply by being who you were born to be: our little girl, Zaya Wade. So honey, thank you for showing the world what courage looks like. I am proud to have been chosen to be your father. And a big thank you to the NAACP for this incredible honor.
Union-Wade: Thanks, Derrick (Johnson) and the NAACP. It is humbling to stand here surrounded by friends and heroes, OGs and icons, all working to advance the lives of black people and pay respect to an organization that has taken us through more than a century of relentless challenge, pain, triumph and change. And now we are once again at the foot of a whole new era of activism – a new era that requires our collective answer to one simple question: will we fight for some or will we fight for all of our people?
Let’s state some hard truths. First, the intersection of black rights and the rights of the LGBTQIA, trans and gender nonconforming people remains rough – that’s a huge understatement. Even as we demand equality at the top of our lungs, we consistently fail to expand our advocacy to protect some of our most vulnerable among us.
And secondly, black trans people in this country are being targeted, terrorized and hunted. Every day, everywhere. And it is rarely whispered about. Frankly, we approach this work not so much as activists or leaders as as parents – parents who love our children and will do anything we can to keep them seen and protected and safe.
This is a conversation worth having in a way that can actually build bridges – that doesn’t fuel hatred or division. That does not allow legislators or legal systems to look the other way when black transgender people are attacked.
That does not incite more young people to hate or harm themselves. That doesn’t kill people. So we are humbled and we are hopeful for the future. … We are hopeful that we may witness a real shift in the fight for justice: as the movement makes room for all – everyone. Thank you.