If you still think of Miley Cyrus and only picture a twerking, foam-finger-toting 20-year-old, well, we don’t know what to do with you. Over the past year or so, the singer has devoted the majority of her time to open the public’s mind to all forms of sexuality and gender. Through her Happy Hippie Foundation and personal stories, at 22, she has had an incredible impact on the LGBTQ community. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the American Foundation for AIDS Research (amFAR) chose to award Cyrus, alongside Andy Cohen, with an award at their annual Inspiration Gala.
After being introduced her friend, writer Tyler Ford, who identifies as agender, Cyrus delivered an informative, emotional speech. “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,” she said. “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.”
Stating that “1.6 million young people are homeless each year, and 40% of homeless young people identify as LGBT,” Cyrus expanded on the importance of Happy Hippie Foundation. “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.”
One of the most emotional moments, though, came when she thanked her parents. As Cyrus recently told Paper, her parents have been extremely accepting of her bisexuality and gender fluidity. “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... 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.”
Cyrus ended on a powerful note. “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,” she said. “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.”