Our foremost modern gladiator Kerry Washington was presented with the Vanguard Award at GLAAD's 26th Annual Media Awards over the weekend. In her acceptance speech she spoke on diversity in television, what it means to be an LGBTQ ally, and, what people most often forget, intersectionality: "You'd think we'd band together and fight the good fight, but history tells us that no, often we don't. Women, poor people, people of color, people with disabilities, immigrants, gay men, lesbians, bisexuals, trans people, intersex people. We have been pitted against each other, and made to feel like there are limited seats at the table for those of us who fall into the category of 'other'."
But perhaps the best and most sobering moment from the speech happened when the Scandal star roused the crowd by breaking down the notion of "diversity." (As the ruler of Shondaland herself, Shonda Rhimes, put it: "As if there is something unusual about telling stories involving women
and people of color and LGBTQ characters on TV. I have a different word:
normalizing. I'm normalizing TV. I am making TV look like the world
looks.") "I don't decide to play the characters I play as a political choice," said Washington. "Yet the characters I play do become political statements because having your story told -- as a woman, as a person of color, as any member of any disenfranchised community -- is sadly often still a radical idea... That is why the work of GLAAD is so important."