Ever since the MTV Movie & TV Awards began — all the way back when it was merely the MTV Movie Awards — the Best Kiss award has always been the acceptance speech to watch. That’s why Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams’ on-stage make out in 2005 will go down in history and Robert Pattinson and Taylor Lautner’s surprise smooch set Tumblr fandom on fire in 2011.
But things were different for the 2018 award. Instead of an acceptance speech that stood out for simple shock and entertainment value, this year’s moment brought profound inspiration and queer pride to the stage for typically joke-heavy night. And we have to thank Love, Simon star Keiynan Lonsdale for that.
Lonsdale, who confirmed his interest in both men and women in May 2017, won the Golden Popcorn statue for his almost movie-ending kiss with Nick Robinson, who played the titular hero of gay coming-of-age movie Love, Simon. Robinson was unable to accept the award with his co-star – but Lonsdale made the most of his moment, showing up on stage in a sequin coat by WhoCaresWhyNot, a cream skirt, a high-necked top, glittering face jewels, and bleached blonde hair.
“I just want to say to every kid, if you can live your dreams and wear dresses…” he said before being cut off by the audience’s roar of support. Trailblazer Award winner and fellow queer performer of color Lena Waithe was one of Lonsdale’s loudest supporters, happily clapping and cheering in her seat.
When Lonsdale got back to his speech, the Australian native continued addressing the kids watching at home, “You can live your dreams and kiss the one that you love, no matter what gender they are. You can live your dreams and you can believe in magic. You can live your dreams and you can be yourself. Thank you so much.” The responses on Twitter were ecstatic.
This is the second year in a row a queer couple has won best at the Best Kiss award. Last year, the honor went to Ashton Sanders and Jharrel Jerome for their Moonlight liplock. So, not only is the award becoming more LGBTQ+ friendly, it’s also acknowledging and celebrating queer love between young Black men.
Is too early to demand a Love, Simon sequel to keep up this streak (and get Keiynan Lonsdale back on that stage)?