The South-African born singer and YouTuber is the youngest person to have received the award, joining an acclaimed list of recipients that includes Sir Ian McKellen, Martina Navratilova and John Waters.
In his speech, the 21-year-old highlighted the role that the media plays in creating an inclusive environment, while dedicating the award to pioneers including gay liberation activist Marsha P. Johnson and the recently deceased Gilbert Baker who created the rainbow pride flag.
“What and who we see in the media defines our perception of the world around us – so to see ourselves in this picture of what is normal and what is acceptable and what is beautiful is absolutely vital,” Sivan said.
He also highlighted the struggles of transgender women, with 27 murdered in 2016 in the United States, in addition to eight deaths so far this year, urging the audience to keep fighting for who they are.
"In a time where it might be tempting to retreat into the shadows, I ask you to be louder – keep holding hands, keep finding pride in your identity, keep standing up for those in our community who are most vulnerable, keep love in your heart, and share it with the world," he said.
The GLAAD Media Awards honour film, music and television that accurately depicts the LGBTIQ community, with other winners at this year's 28th edition including Moonlight which won Outstanding Film Release, while Patricia Arquette won the Vanguard Award for her effort in promoting equality, paying tribute to her sister Alexis Arquette, a transgender actress who passed away last year.