In her speech to the Class of 2020, Beyoncé encouraged graduates to be unabashedly themselves.
“If you’re part of a group that’s called ‘other’ — a group that does not get the chance to be center stage — build your own stage, and make them see you,” she said. “Your queerness is beautiful, your blackness is beautiful, your compassion, your understanding, your fight for people who may be different from you is beautiful.”
The pop star’s LGBTQ fans took to social media to respond.
“Beyoncé’s speech made me shed hot tears!” one person tweeted. “I am terrified of starting life after school but I will never forget that I am important, I am strong, I am powerful, I am queer and I am capable of bringing the change I wish to see in this world.”
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Another Twitter user said, “I feel like I’ve been waiting for this my whole life.”
Beyoncé’s 10-minute speech was part of the YouTube livestream “Dear Class of 2020,” a virtual commencement ceremony headlined by Barack and Michelle Obama. The full ceremony, which has been viewed over 8 million times since it went up on YouTube on Sunday, also featured Lady Gaga, Taylor Swift, Stephen Colbert and Malala Yousafzai and performances by BTS, Chloe x Halle and Mariah Carey.
Beyoncé congratulated the graduates on their perseverance through the coronavirus pandemic and paid homage to the #BlackLivesMatter movement.
“You have arrived,” she said. “Here in the middle of a global crisis, a racial pandemic, and worldwide expression of outrage at the senseless killing of yet another unarmed black human being — and you still made it.”
She addressed the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery, whose names have rung through the streets as part of the recent mass protests against racism and police brutality. She also spoke about her own experiences being excluded or put down as a black woman trying to enter a white and male-dominated entertainment industry.
“Not enough black women had a seat at the table, so I had to go chop down that wood and build my own table,” she said.
In much of her speech, she spoke directly to black graduates, encouraging them to push on through difficult times and make “power moves.”
“To the young kings, lean into your vulnerability and redefine masculinity,” she said. “Lead with heart.”
“I hope you go into the world and show them that you will never stop being yourself,” Beyoncé said. “That it’s your time now. Make them see you.”
Sakshi Venkatraman writes for NBC News.