Harvey Fierstein has spent decades creating some of the most iconic musicals and plays to feature complex LGBT characters and themes. For his legendary oeuvre and vocal support for LGBT rights, the playwright and actor was honored at Logo’s Trailblazer Awards.
Fierstein used his speech to talk about Omar Mateen, the gunman who shot and killed 49 people and injured 53 others at a gay nightclub in Orlando two weeks ago.
“These last two weeks have been very hard for all of us, especially for gay people,” Fierstein began. “As soon as we heard the news, we knew; we knew who took out that gun and shot. We knew it wasn’t something to do with Islam. We knew that it was hate, but hate turned inward. Hate so strong, hate that destroyed so completely that his soul was gone and all he could do was cry out. And instead of knowing there was someone to cry out to and say, ‘Help me. Help me be myself. Tell me I’m all right,’ he took a gun to prove he was a man and destroyed hundreds of lives.”
Fierstein went on to encourage the LGBT community to stand together in love and acceptance in response to this tragedy.
“Now you are surrounded with love, now you are surrounded with acceptance,” he said. “So take advantage of it. Put your arms around each other. Tell each other, ‘I’ll have your back no matter what.’ Show up for life, make history.”
See Fierstein’s full acceptance speech below.
The Trailblazer Honors will air on Saturday at 8 p.m. ET on Logo and VH1. The show will feature more commemorations of the Orlando victims from Vice President Joe Biden, Christina Aguilera, Sia, and Rachel Platten.