The 30th annual GLAAD Media Awards took place on Saturday night in New York City.
Among the many gay rights advocates and award winners was Madonna, who stole the show with an emotionally stirring speech after accepting the Advocate for Change award.
The Like a Virgin singer was recognized as not only a longstanding supporter of the LGBTQ2 community but also an avid social activist in support of effective treatment for HIV and AIDS during the epidemic’s apex.
“The first gay man I ever met was named Christopher Flynn. He was my ballet teacher in high school and he was the first person that believed in me, that made me feel special as a dancer, as an artist and as a human being,” she began.
“I know this sounds trivial and superficial,” she continued, “but he was the first man to tell me that I was beautiful.”
Madonna recounted the time Flynn brought her to a gay nightclub for the first time and how it affected her. She highlighted a positivity about the community and its general atmosphere.
She said it gave her a new understanding of what it means to have freedom of expression and revealed that Flynn was the one who actually inspired her to pursue a performing career in New York City.
Her time in New York City came during the height of the AIDS epidemic. Unfortunately, she lost a number of friends to the disease, including artist Keith Haring and her own roommate, Martin Burgoyne.
Madonna then shared a story of her smuggling drugs across the U.S.-Mexico border in hopes to assist her HIV-positive friends. She revealed that the medication only worsened their conditions and that she later went to the hospital to spend time with patients in the AIDS ward.
After being swarmed by the paparazzi, her hospital visit resulted in numerous false reports of the singer being diagnosed with AIDS.
“I came home smelling like s**t and vomit and death and defiance…” she said, adding that instead she felt that she “came home smelling like gratitude.”
In conclusion to her story, Madonna stressed the importance of fighting back and never backing down in terms of supporting LGBTQ2 communities and their proper rights, even if it means dealing with “lies and bulls**t.”
“Thank you to Sarah Kate Ellis and GLAAD for this honour,” she continued.
“When I made the film Truth or Dare,” she added, “I had no idea I was going to inspire so many gay men to … just have the courage to come out and be free and take a stand and say, ‘This is who I am, like it or not, OK?'”
“The freedom-fighting expanded and continued,” said Madonna. “Fighting for all marginalized people was a duty and an honour I could not turn my back on, nor will I ever.”
The singer continued to quote a bonus track, entitled Extreme Occident, from her upcoming record, Madame X: “Life is a circle / death and loss brought me new life / brought me to life / brought me to love.“
She then referred back to the beginning of her speech: “The importance of love:”
“As soon as you really understand what it means to love, you understand what it takes to become a human being, and that is every human’s duty: to fight, to advocate, to do whatever we can and whatever it takes…”
“Madame X is a freedom fighter,” concluded Madonna.
Madame X will be Madonna’s 14th studio album. It will be released on June 14.
The album can now be preordered and saved through the official Madonna website.
The bonus song, Extreme Occident, is available on all physical formats of Madame X as well as the digital deluxe edition.
Madame X tracklist:
- Medellin (ft. Maluma)
- Dark Ballet
- God Control
- Future (ft. Quavo)
- Killers Who Are Partying
- Crave (ft. Swae Lee)
- Come Alive
- Faz Gostoso (ft. Anitta)
- Bitch, I’m Loca (ft. Maluma)
- I Don’t Search I Find
- I Rise