A beautiful thing happened in New York City last night. The American Foundation for AIDS Research held its annual Inspiration Gala, this year awarding Andy Cohen and Miley Cyrus with top honors. Along with getting down to an exuberant performance by Mary J. Blige and contributing to the live auction (for which Miley donated a hand-bedazzled collection of Caitlyn Jenner's "Vanity Fair" covers, signed by Caitlyn herself!), Miley brought the entire room to its feet with a beautiful and moving acceptance speech, using the platform to describe her dedication to the fight against HIV/AIDS and the tenets of her Happy Hippie Foundation.
Read the full transcript below.
Thank you very much. So, I've been sitting here long enough, I've been watching everybody read from these weird futuristic mirrors that are here. These are feeding everyone their words. They're weird, and they make you look kind of like you're spacing out, which I already look like I'm doing, so I'm gonna not do that. I'm gonna hold my paper, which I trust. Thank you. Do it!
So, thank you so much, Tyler, thank you. I am honored to have such a beautiful date tonight that speaks just as beautifully as they look. Thank you so much. As Tyler mentioned, we met when I was shooting the Backyard Sessions for the launch of Happy Hippie, and I got the privilege to shoot this incredible subject for Happy Hippie's newest project, #InstaPride, which just launched yesterday, as Tyler just said, but I decided to get my plug in here since I'm in the room with people here that have so much money. Even though you couldn't tell after that last bit. I'm just kidding. But tonight is just so cosmic—you guys, I haven't been drinking tonight because I had to speak, otherwise that bidding would have gotten...a lot more fun.
Anyway, getting the Inspiration Award tonight is an honor that is unbelievable. Seriously, I didn't believe it when they told me that I got it. It seems just way too easy, and it seems that there is no way that I have done nearly enough to be standing here on the receiving end of this honor, but I'm thinking about tonight as not celebrating what me and Happy Hippie have already done but celebrating what we're going to do, what we plan on doing in the future. Tonight is not a finish line for us, but it's a starting point. And I want to work every day to do something good for somebody else, so that might feel, not only isn't this honor has been wasted but my life and all of the influence that comes with it. There are so many people around the world right now that deserve this recognition, and they've dedicated their lives to finding a cure for those living with HIV and AIDS and they use their voices to speak out against the brutal, unfair condemnation and abominable stigma that comes with this disease. And by receiving this award tonight, I promise to continue to fight along with such industrious army for a cure for this epidemic.
Now, I'm not as short as Andy, so I'm gonna keep going, so just give me just a second. Granted, he got to go earlier, so all of us had drank a little bit less than my turn, but there have been too many families, friends, partners, and animals that have lost somebody that they cherish to this illness, somebody that they want to say, "I love you," to right now. And so I want all of us to do that for them. On the count of three, I want everyone in this room to say, "We love you," to the men, women, and children throughout the world that have died or are currently fighting for their lives because of HIV and AIDS. Alright, ready? On the count of three. We're all drunk enough to do this, right? One, two, three: We love you! I think it's so beautiful to hear all of you guys say these words to, unfortunately, people in these situations that don't hear it nearly enough.
1.6 million young people are homeless each year, and 40% of homeless young people identify as LGBT. This community is disproportionately affected by this disease, and discrimination can lead to homelessness, and once these young people are on the street, many young people find that exchanging sex for food, clothing, and shelter are their only chance for survival, putting them at a much greater risk for contracting HIV and AIDS.
An inspiration— I'm not gonna lie, when I got this award, I Googled what "inspiration" actually means because it just seems like it just couldn't be possible that I was getting the Inspiration Award, but it's something that makes us feel or do something, especially something creative. And amfAR and their amazing team of researchers have used their inventiveness, their knowledge to help extend, improve and save the lives of countless people around the world with AIDS or who are vulnerable to the infection. AmfAR has funded more than 3,300 grants to research teams around the world. In addition to research, amfAR's leadership also advances public policy—which is what Happy Hippie is trying to do—and has helped pass federal legislation to provide people living with HIV the access to care that they need and protect their dignity and their rights.
Now, my hero is not only an entertainer and an icon, but she is the founding international chairman of amfAR: Dame Elizabeth Taylor. She said that with celebrity, comes responsibility, and she was an illustration of someone who committed to using their own power and fame to bring awareness to something so much greater than her own power and her own fame. And when I found out that I was receiving this award, I thought about just dedicating this award to the admirable life of Elizabeth Taylor, but it was never about her. She always dedicated the spotlight to those in need, and she was a pioneer and she spoke out against hypocrisy and discrimination—compassion and care in a revolutionary time. For many Americans, it was Elizabeth Taylor who brought the issue of AIDS into the general mainstream. She, with founding chairman Dr. Krim and a small group of physicians and scientists united to form the American Foundation for AIDS Research, amfAR.
Now, another woman who—even though she was unable to be with us tonight— amfAR and anyone who has experienced, as I like to call her, "The Stone," knows that long-time supporter and campaign chair Sharon Stone is definitely here with us in spirit here tonight and possibly under the tables pickpocketing you this very moment. Now, I'm still not convinced it was the white wine last year that racked up my bill, but Sharon's braveness makes her one of amfAR's most effective spokespeople. This is gonna make everyone in this room feel really cheap: At 2014's Cinema Against AIDS event, she helped raised a record of $35 million in a single evening, so don't be cheap tonight, people! Sharon's watching, she's got nanny cameras, your name, your address, your banking information, all that good stuff.
Quickly, I'm gonna wrap it up because I know we're all ready to get the f--k out. Chairman of the board Mr. Kenneth Cole—where are you?—thank you for having me. Thank you for honoring me tonight, and I look forward to what Happy Hippie can do in and for the future with you. And everyone on Team Happy Hippie, the future is a blank canvas, and I am surrounded by artists as devoted and benevolent as you, I am honored. And before I finish—I keep saying that, I swear I'm gonna shut the f--k up—but I just want to say a few final thank yous.
John Dempsey and everyone at MAC cosmetics, MAC AIDS, thank you so much for introducing me to amfAR and for using your immense brand for making such an impact on the future of HIV and AIDS and all those affected. I've gotta be honest, as a little girl, it was not a dream of mine to be the face of a lipstick, but it was a dream of mine to change the world, so thank you very much. And as John Lennon once said—I use this quote way too often—but he said that a dream you dream alone is only a dream, but a dream we dream together is a reality, so thank you for making this a reality.
My mom and dad, mostly my dad. I think this is the first time we've actually hung out outside of the house in maybe 15 years. You look handsome, I'm happy to have you here. I just want to tell you how much I love you—I'm gonna f--king cry like a loser—I just want to tell my parents, I hope that this makes them proud and somehow makes up for all the s--t that I do. You are two of the most selfless people, and you've taught me and all my siblings how important it is to be there for those who need us and how important it is to care about other people and their lives, so thank you for making me believe that. People say that you don't choose your family, but I choose my family every time, and I'd think that even if you weren't my mom and dad. I hope we'd still be in the room together looking for a cure, so thank you very much. One of my favorite quotes from another heroine of mine, Audrey Hepburn. She said that as you grow older, you realize you have two hands: You've got one for helping yourself and one for helping other people. Thank you for instilling that in me and making me really know that that's true because if I know anything from doing this after how—10 years of doing this, nothing means s--t except f--king helping people. That's the only thing that makes us feel that we've really accomplished anything at all.
I hope one day that I'm here on Earth to experience an AIDS-free world, and I'm honored to have even been a twinkle in the diamond sky of this dream that one day is going to be a reality for me and my kids and their future kids and their future kids. This is a horrible disease, and outside of this room, there are millions of people, young and old and of all races and genders, who are willing and waiting for a cure. But this illness, it's brought us all together tonight, and for that, I feel thankful. I feel so grateful to be in a room with so many people that care. Because unfortunately, that's just too rare in this world that we live in today, and maybe that's why it's so easy for me to be standing up here, receiving this Inspiration Award tonight. Again, this privilege is an honor, and amfAR, I will not let this, my life, your dedication, your hard work, and all these valuable souls that are being affected by HIV and AIDS go to waste. We will continue to fight against judgment, and we will find a cure for HIV/AIDS.
Thank you very much for having me be a part of that, and I love you very much. Thank you.