A day before Justin Timberlake sweetly presented her with the Best Tour award at the iHeartRadio Music Awards, Taylor Swift took the opportunity to honor an accomplished pal of her own.
The 25-year-old wasn’t scheduled to present at the 27th Annual GLAAD Media Awards on Saturday (airing tonight on LOGO); in fact, she wasn’t slated to appear at all. But when it came time for Ruby Rose to receive the evening’s most prestigious prize, the Stephen F. Kolzak Award, Taylor was there to dole out the praise.
As “Shake It Off” soundtracked her walk to the podium, Taylor received a standing ovation from the stunned crowd, many of whom whipped out their phones to capture the surprise moment. Tay quickly diverted the attention away from herself, though, by giving a moving introduction to Rose, whom she called “a force of nature."
“Tonight I’m here to honor someone who, through her words and through her actions, proves that she is a force of nature,” Taylor said. “She tells the world that no one can judge us and no one can stop us. She is a woman of many talents. She is my friend.”
The Stephen F. Kolzak Award is given each year to an LGBT media professional who has made a “significant difference in promoting equality and acceptance,” according to GLAAD. As someone who identifies as gender fluid, Rose has encouraged a broader understanding of gender identities outside the traditional binary, the organization said.
Upon taking the stage, Rose delivered a thoughtful and confident speech about her tough childhood in Australia, where she came out at the age of 12 and struggled to find a role model whom she could identify with.
"It's so interesting to receive an award for visibility because for such a large part of my life, I just wanted to be invisible. I felt there was so much wrong with me and there was so much weird about me," the Orange Is the New Black star said. “I dreamt of being a famous singer or an actor who, through my work, could inspire others to be themselves or hang in there. I had no idea how I dreamt so big when I felt so small, but I know it got me through each day. I wanted to be the person I couldn't find in my life.
“I’m just so blessed to have experienced both sides of this journey,” she added. “To have searched endlessly for... someone I can relate to on TV -- and then coming full circle and being in a show that I know has done the same thing for so many people. I truly understand how important it is that we are not invisible. That young people everywhere can turn to the media and be included. Not treated like they do not or should not exist.”
After the show, Ruby continued to reflect on her big moment, sharing photos of herself and Taylor on Instagram and writing, “The true story of how one 'sometimes girl' ( me ) was surprised and brought to tears by a surprise 'always amazing and giving' girl @taylorswift .. Speeches, hugs and the most beautiful jacket holder in the world.”
Taylor also shared a pic with Aussie singer Troye Sivan, writing, “My first GLAAD Awards!! So happy to present Ruby Rose with the Stephen F Kolzak Award (and watch her make a touching, funny, and poignant speech) then we ran into Troye Sivan?!?! I love tonight.”
The GLAAD Media Awards air tonight at 10/9c on LOGO.