At the GLAAD Media Awards ceremony in New York City on Saturday, Madonna received the Advocate For Change award. Chosen for her life-long advocacy, GLAAD president and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis said in a statement that Madonna was receiving the award because she “always has and always will be the LGBTQ community’s greatest ally. … She fearlessly pushes for a world where LGBTQ people are accepted. Her music and art have been life-saving outlets for LGBTQ people over the years and her affirming words and actions have changed countless hearts and minds.”
Madonna made an emotional speech during her acceptance in which she talked about how her work and her life was affected by LGBTQ people and the rise of HIV and AIDS.
“Why have I always fought for change? That’s a hard question to answer,” Madonna told the audience. “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.”
She also talked about how her career was shaped by queer artists, recognizing, in particular, her ballet teacher from high school, who encouraged her as a dancer.
“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,” the singer said. “I know this sounds trivial and superficial, but he was the first man to tell me I was beautiful.”
She ended on an inspiring note, reminding us why she was up for the Advocate For Change award in the first place: “As soon as you understand what it means to love, you understand what it takes to become a human being and that it is every human’s duty to fight, to advocate and do whatever you can and whatever it takes.”