Taylor Swift was not among the honorees at the 27th Annual GLAAD Media Awards in Los Angeles on Saturday night. In fact, she wasn’t even scheduled to be in attendance. But a couple hours into the ceremony—which honors film, TV, and the media for their inclusive representations of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community—Swift surprised everyone by gracing the stage to present friend Ruby Rose (Orange Is the New Black) with the Stephen F. Kolzak Award.
It was a moment so genuine and surprising that even Rose couldn’t believe that Swift was there on her behalf. “Of all the possible things that could make me cry, I didn’t think about Taylor Swift coming to give me an award,” said a shocked Rose. (You can watch the video, below). Host Ross Matthews introduced Swift as a “surprise guest,” but it wasn’t until he mentioned the word “squad” that those in attendance—including Caitlyn Jenner, Lea Michele, Nick Jonas, and Demi Lovato—had any clue who he was talking about.
Once on stage, Swift said that “through her words and her actions, [Rose] proves that she is a force of nature.” It was powerful words coming from Swift, considering that only a year ago, Rose had to sneak in to the GLAAD Awards after-party in New York. “I was in awe, but at the same time, I had this feeling that someone would tap me on the shoulder and tell me I wasn’t supposed to be here,” revealed Rose. “Now, a year later, it is such a relief to know I’m supposed to be here…but that feeling doesn’ just go away even when you are invited to the cool table, or when you’re the honoree at the table. [Sometimes] that voice is always there, but you just get a lot better at shutting it up.”
Rose added that for much of her life, “I wanted to be invisible. I was out from the age of 12 and felt discomfort in anything feminine. Still do,” she laughed. “I practiced looking like a boy. Still do! And I was appalled when I get breasts. Sometimes, I still do. [Laughs]” Because of that, Rose admitted to spending a lot of time “in a very vulnerable place with little to no support. I was verbally abused and beaten until I was hospitalized. And I attempted…suicide so many times…I’d hide out and read books in the library and dream about a career as a child psychologist who could help people. I would dream about writing a book for kids like me so they wouldn’t feel so alone. And I dreamt of being a famous singer or actor where my work could inspire others to just hang in there. Now I have no idea how I dreamed so big when I felt so small, but I know it’s what got me through each day. I wanted to be the person that I needed and could find anywhere in my life. There was no one there to validate who I was or let me know I was normal…we’ve come a long way. And that’s because of GLAAD. I don’t want to think about a world without GLAAD.”
Earlier on the blue carpet, Glamour spoke to Rose, who opened up about her many tattoos and the comfort she finds in their meaning. “‘Let Go, Let God”” is the one that I literally got to remind me to let go and let God,” she revealed. “[It] means stop trying to control everything and let the universe or whatever you believe in take care of it because you cannot control everything. The other is ‘Be the person your dog thinks you are.’ Whenever I’m feeling really down and out, I’m just like, ‘My dog thinks I’m awesome!'”
The GLAAD Media Awards, generously sponsored by Ketel One Vodka, among others, also honored Demi Lovato with the Vanguard Award, which was presented to her by her good friend Nick Jonas. The “Jealous” singer even choked up a bit introducing Lovato, who he praised for always being honest and genuine. In her acceptance speech, Lovato went off script and spoke from the heart, saying it was the only way to do it at an event like this. She also started crying and joked, “it’s because I’m PMSing!” To see her moving speech, click below.
The 27th Annual GLAAD Media Awards will air on Logo on Monday, April 4 at 10 P.M. ET.
Photos: Getty Images; Jessica Radloff/YouTube