Taylor Swift won the coveted video of the year for You Need To Calm Down, which criticises homophobia and features cameos from high-profile LGBT celebrities.
The video also endorsed the Equality Act, a proposed piece of legislation that would enshrine into law protections for the LGBT community in the US.
Swift, who had 12 nominations at the start of the night and also won the video for good prize, opened the ceremony by performing under a rainbow before again making clear her backing for the Equality Act.
The words flashed up on the big screens behind her while she performed You Need To Calm Down and Lover, both from her newly released album Lover.
The VMAs, conceived in the 1984 as a more youth-focused alternative to the Grammys, are often better known for playing host to controversial moments rather than who wins its prizes, but scandal was in short supply on Monday night.
Winners included popular choices such as Cardi B, who won best hip hop for her hit Money.