Timberlake said he wrote “Can’t Stop the Feeling” as a song about “inclusion” and “being together,” and he went on to share some encouraging words for the young people watching:
IF YOU ARE BLACK OR YOU ARE BROWN OR YOU ARE GAY OR YOU ARE LESBIAN OR YOU ARE TRANS, OR MAYBE YOU’RE JUST A SISSY SINGING BOY FROM TENNESSEE, ANYONE THAT IS TREATING YOU UNKINDLY, IT’S ONLY BECAUSE THEY ARE AFRAID OR THEY HAVE BEEN TAUGHT TO BE AFRAID OF HOW IMPORTANT YOU ARE. BECAUSE BEING DIFFERENT MEANS YOU MAKE THE DIFFERENCE, SO FUCK ’EM.
Timberlake received applause from the audience throughout the message, which comes at a critical time, particularly for transgender youth. It’s not even the first speech Timberlake has used to inspire the younger generation. He sent a similar message of acceptance at last year’s Teen Choice Awards.