Lena Waithe Dedicates Trailblazer Award to “Paris Is Burning” Icons

"They strutted through a brick wall so we wouldn't have to."

There were many incredible wins at this year’s MTV Movie Awards, but one that stood out was Lena Waithe and her acceptance for the Trailblazer Award, to which she dedicated to the legendary performers featured in the classic queer documentary, Paris is Burning.

The Trailblazer Award has been an important part of the annual ceremony, where diverse and dynamic voices within media are recognized and celebrated, and in Waithe’s acceptance speech she took the time to educate the audience on where the origins of so much popular queer culture actually originates from.

Kevin Winter/Getty Images for MTV

She was elated to be accepting the award, sharing: “I’m extremely grateful that you guys see me in that light… I believe the only reason why I’m even allowed to stand here is because of a few other trailblazers that some of you might not be aware of.”

Her speech focused on paying homage to the LGBTQ trailblazers that paved the way for her to get there. The queer pioneers that were mentioned included Paris Is Burning stars Pepper LaBeija, Dorian Corey, Angie Xtravaganza, and Willi Ninja.

“Tonight, I want to share this award with them. I want to do what we as a society should have done a long time ago, and that’s give them the glory and the shine they deserve,” Waithe told the audience. “Every time someone says ’shade’ or talks about ’reading’ or decides to just ’serve face’, please look up to the sky and give thanks.”

“We owe them a huge debt of gratitude. They strutted through a brick wall so we wouldn’t have to.”

Watch her full speech below.

Writer for NewNowNext, Refinery29, Wear Your Voice, BitchMedia, etc. Budding sex educator. @NerdsOfPreycast cohort. She/Her.