ESSENCE Black Women in Hollywood

Lena Waithe Says She Hopes To Be A 'Shining Light For All The Little Lesbians In Training' In Empowering BWIH Speech

Lena Waithe

Michael Tran/Getty Images

Sydney Scott
Mar, 02, 2018 12:12 AM UTC

Lena Waithe was one of the honorees at this year’s ESSENCE Black Women in Hollywood event, where Black excellence was on full display.

Waithe, who has had an incredible year, was honored with the Ford Vanguard Award. The award comes on the heels of her 2017 Emmy win for Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series (which made her the first Black woman in history to take home the award), and just weeks after her critically-acclaimed new Showtime series, The Chi, was renewed for a second season.

During her empowering Black Women in Hollywood acceptance speech, the proud Chicago trailblazer reflected on her own journey as a gay Black woman and encouraged other Black LGBT people to remain true to themselves.

Thanking her girlfriend, Alana Mayo, Waithe touched on the significance of the moment.

“I’m glad I can do that…profess my love to the love of my life out loud in front of all of you. Who knew that in 2018 that would still be considered a revolutionary act. So many of our Black gay, lesbian, queer trans foremothers and forefathers and those that never felt comfortable with either gender had to hide it inside.”

Waithe also expanded on the fear and obstacles the Black LGBT community faced in the past, as well as those they still they face today, including the struggle to make white and Black people feel comfortable.

“They were forced to hide in hopes that one day we wouldn’t have to and now look at us, still hiding. Being a gay Black female is not a revolutionary act,” she continued. “Being proud to be a gay Black female is.”

Reflecting on the importance of her Emmy win, Waithe added, “It’s not just my job to make art… but to be a shining light for all the little lesbians in training. To care about them more than my bank account.”

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