Singer-songwriter Christina Aguilera shared a heartfelt message on Instagram thanking the LGBT community for its “support, friendship, joy, and acceptance.”

Aguilera said that although she was unable to attend this weekend's Human Rights Campaign (HRC) gala to receive the group's Ally for Equality Award, she felt honored for the recognition.

“Since the very beginning of my career I have leaned on the LGBTQ+ community for support, friendship, joy and acceptance,” Aguilera wrote. “I have found the most solace and unimaginable strength in my friends who identify as queer, and I have crawled out of some of my darkest times thanks to the small group of people I surround myself with – fellow dancers, glam artists, and creatives who I realize are overcoming obstacles of their own – the fights for freedom, the struggles for equality, and prayers for acceptance.”

“I think the reason why I connect so deeply with this community is my intense love for anyone who is grateful and passionate to be living as their true selves. I thrive in the company of other humans who are proud of individuality, authenticity and creativity. I wore piercings when society told me to be fresh faced. I kissed girls when executives told me fans would look away. I helped give attention to gay relationships and eating disorders and phobias when they were mostly taboo. What I realize is that I would not have had the power to be where I am today without the return acceptance from those who, like myself, were labeled as ‘other.’”

“I recognize there are still so many hurdles ahead, but to realize how far we’ve come and that my voice and presence has made an impact thus far is more fulfilling than words can express,” she added.