At 60, there’s no doubt that Madonna still knows how to move a crowd. Last night, the Queen of Pop received GLAAD’s 2019 Advocate for Change Award at the organization’s annual media awards in NYC. Her acceptance speech was at times hilarious, at times raw and emotional. The seven-time Grammy winner and two-time Golden Globe winner said this award holds a special place in her heart, because there’s “nothing superficial about it.” Madonna said it has been an honor and privilege to advocate for LGBTQ+ rights throughout her entire career.
“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, OK,” 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.”
Flynn encouraged Madonna to move from Michigan to New York. She arrived in the late 1970s, at the height of the AIDS epidemic. She lost several friends to the disease, including artist Keith Haring, who would have been 61 on Saturday.
Madonna also teased her upcoming fourteenth album Madame X, and she talked about how much she enjoys working with her kids–especially 13-year-old David Banda, whom she adopted from Malawi, and who has a writing credit on Madame X track “Batuka.”
The full speech is not yet available online. Watch highlights below.