Dwyane Wade Credits Zaya Wade in Impassioned NAACP Award Speech on LGBTQ+ Rights: ‘She’s Taught Us How to Lead’

Dwyane Wade and Gabrielle Union-Wade stole the show at the 54th annual NAACP Image Awards Saturday with their impassioned speech advocating for LGBTQ+ rights.

The couple took the stage to accept the President’s Award for their humanitarian and advocacy work for the LGBTQIA community. The award came one day after Wade’s daughter was legally granted the right to change her gender and name to Zaya Malachi Airamis Wade, Variety reported.

Wade thanked his daughter for her continued bravery in living her truth and helping raise awareness for the transgender community.

“As your father, all I’ve wanted to do was get it right,” he said. “I’ve sat back and watch how gracefully you’ve taken on a public public scrutiny.”

“And even though it’s not easy, I watched you walk out of that house every morning. As yourself. I admire how you’ve handled the ignorance in our world. I admire that you face every day. To say that your village is proud of you is an understatement.”

The NBA champion continued praising his daughter for helping to open his eyes and serve as the catalyst for his philanthropic work for LGBTQ+ rights.

“As your father, my job isn’t to create a version of myself or direct your future,” he added. “My role is to be a facilitator to your hopes, your wishes and your dreams.”

“Zaya, you’ve made me a better human just simply by being who you were born to be—a baby girl, Zaya Wade.

“So, baby, thank you for showing the world what courage looks like,” he said. “I’m proud that I was chosen to stand in place as your father and thank you so much NAACP for this incredible honor.”

Union-Wade went viral for her portion of the speech where she first thanked the NAACP for continuing to be “an organization that has led us through over a century of relentless challenge, pain, triumph, and change. And now stands with us again, at the foot of a very new era of activism, a new era that demands our collective answer to one simple question.”

The question served as the transition to the actress’s call for more support from the Black community toward the Black trans and LGBTQ+ community.

“Will we fight for some, or will we fight for all of our people?” Union-Wade asked.

“Let’s just name a couple hard truths,” she continued. “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. Even as we demand equality at the top of our lungs, we’ve consistently failed to extend our advocacy to protect some of our most vulnerable among us.”

The Being Mary Jane star made sure to touch on the grim realities for the Black trans community that is too often overlooked and ignored by mainstream media and the Black community.

“Black trans people are being targeted, terrorized and hunted in this country,” she said. “Every day everywhere. And there’s rarely a whisper about it.”

Union-Wade said her and Wayne’s advocacy work isn’t so much about being “activists” or “leaders,” but more about being “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,” she explained. “That don’t fan the flames of hatred or division. That don’t enable lawmakers or justice systems to look the other way when Black trans people are under attack. That don’t drive more young people to hate themselves or harm themselves. That don’t cost people their lives.”

In conclusion, Union-Wade said she remains “hopeful that we may witness a real shift in the fight for justice, the moment the movement makes room for everyone. Everyone.”