All eyes were on Gabrielle Union and Dwyane Wade last night when they accepted the President’s Award at the NAACP Image Awards. Upon receiving the honor, the couple acknowledged that the rights for Black and LGBTQ people “continues to be rough,” while using the opportunity to champion their daughter Zaya Wade one day after a Los Angeles judge legally granted her name change to Zaya Malachi Airamis Wade and gender assignment to female.
During the heartfelt speech, Dwyane Wade looked directly into the camera and spoke to his daughter, saying, “Zaya, as your father, all I’ve wanted to do is get it right. I’ve sat back and watched how gracefully you’ve taken on the public scrutiny.”
The 41 year old father then continued, “And even though it’s not easy, I watched you walk out of that house every morning as yourself. I admire how you’ve handled ignorance in our world. I admire it that you face every day. To say that your village is proud of you is an understatement.”
He concluded the heartfelt speech by adding, “As your father, my job isn’t to create a version of myself or direct your future. My role is to be a facilitator to your hopes, your wishes, your dreams. Zaya, you’ve made me a better human by just simply being who you were born to be, our baby girl Zaya Wade. So baby, thank you for showing the world what courage looks like. I’m proud that I was chosen to stand in place as your father. And thank you so much to the NAACP for this incredible honor.”
Gab, who stood by her husband on stage, then took the mic and praised the NAACP for persevering “over a century of relentless challenge, pain, triumph, and change.” She continued by saying, “we honestly don’t approach this work as activists or leaders as much as we do this as parents. Parents who love our children, and will do whatever the hell we can to keep them seen and secure and safe.”
The couple’s acceptance speech was met with smiles and a big applause from the live audience as well as online support from viewers watching who praised the couple for their public devotion to their daughter, Zaya.