On Saturday, Madonna was given the great honor of the Advocate for Change award at the 30th annual GLAAD Media Awards in New York. The award is usually granted to an ally to the LGBTQ+ community who has advocated for equal rights regardless of gender, and has helped accelerate the acceptance of all people in society.
Rosie O'Donnell, Madge's A League of Their Own costar, introduced her to the stage. She made sure to honor her first dance teacher and mentor, Christopher Flynn.
"The first gay man I ever met was named Christopher Flynn," she said. "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 that I was beautiful."
Madonna, who was at this point in tears, also honored other friends who had passed away during the peak of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in New York. "After I lost my best friend and roommate Martin Burgoyne and then Keith Haring, happy birthday Keith, I decided to take up the bullhorn and really fight back," she said.
As someone who has also been an advocate for raising awareness about AIDS, she spoke about experience of making her 2008 film I AM Because We Are. "Fighting for all marginalized people was a duty and an honor I could not turn my back on, nor will I ever," she explained.
Madonna ended her speech by quoting a line from "Extreme Oxidant," a song from her new album Madame X. "Life is a circle, death and loss brought me new life, brought me to life, brought me to love."
Listen to her full speech below.