Madonna accepts advocacy award
NEW YORK - Madonna, a pioneer for gay rights, accepted the Advocate for Change Award at the 2019 Glaad Media Awards with a rousing speech that went from playful to emotional, bringing the audience to its feet.
The 60-year-old pop icon turned heads as she walked to her table at the Hilton Midtown in New York on Saturday night, before taking the stage to celebrate her three decades of advocacy work in the LGBTQ community.
“Why have I always fought for change? That’s a hard question to answer. It’s like trying to explain the importance of reading or the need to love. Growing up I always felt like an outsider, like I didn’t fit in. It wasn’t because I didn’t shave under my armpits, I just didn’t fit in, O.K.,” she said.
“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. I know this sounds trivial and superficial, but he was the first man to tell me I was beautiful.”
Madonna went on to say Flynn took her to her first gay club in Detroit, and that the evening changed her life.
“For the first time I saw men kissing men, girls dressed like boys, boys wearing hot pants, insane, incredible dancing and a kind of freedom and joy and happiness that I had never seen before,” she said. “I finally felt like I was not alone, that it was O.K. to be different and to not be like everybody else. And that after all, I was not a freak.”
Madonna also said Flynn pushed her to leave Michigan and go to New York to pursue her dreams. She was in awe with all New York had to offer - diversity, creativity - but she also learned about the AIDS epidemic.
“After I lost my best friend and roommate Martin Burgoyne and then Keith Haring - happy birthday Keith - I decided to take up the bull horn and really fight back,” she added.
Madonna, teary-eyed from her seat, received the award from Anderson Cooper, Mykki Blanco and Rosie O’Donnell.