Madonna accepted the Advocate for Change Award at the 30th annual GLAAD Media Awards on Saturday night in New York City.
In the heavily edited acceptance speech posted by GLAAD online, she talked about the film Truth or Dare and how it inspired as well as horrified.
Said Madonna: “I had no idea it was going to inspire so many gay men to a, give blow jobs to Evian bottles, or b, 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.”
“When I look back and watch that film I am horrified by my brattiness but I’m also proud that it gave so many people hope,” she added. “Fighting for all marginalized people was a duty I could not turn my back on or will I ever.”
Madonna described her first visit to Malawi as the country dealt with an AIDS epidemic, and how it prompted her to make the documentary I Am Because We Are, and helped build schools, orphanages, and a pediatric hospital.
Said Madonna: “I decided to go there and see what I could do, and it was like history repeating itself. hospital wards filled with emaciated dying people, lying in hallways and under beds, abandoned children wandering the streets. Everywhere orphanages overflowing. No medicine, no education about what was happening and no one talking about prevention. … It was here that I met and adopted four of my six most beautiful children.”
Madonna also quoted James Baldwin: “Because only an artist can tell and only an artist have told, since we have heard of man, what it is like for anyone who gets to this planet, to survive it. What it is like to die, or to have somebody die, what it is like to fear death, what is it like to fear, what it is like to love, what it is like to be glad. Hymns don’t do this, churches really cannot do it. The trouble is only the artist can do it, the price that he or she has to pay himself and the price the audience has to pay is willingness to give up everything, because nothing, none of it belongs to you.”
She concluded by referencing her upcoming album, Madame X: “As soon as you really 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, to do whatever we can and whatever it takes. Madame X is a freedom fighter.”
There was much more to the speech, as evidenced by additional clips that showed up online.
Said Madonna: “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. 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.”
She spoke about going to her first gay club in Detroit: “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. I finally felt like I was not alone, that it was OK to be different and to not be like everybody else. And that after all, I was not a freak. I felt at home, and it gave me hope.”
And she spoke of AIDS and the friends it took from her: “The plague that moved in like a black cloud over New York City and in a blink of an eye, took out all of my friends. 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.”
Other GLAAD awards handed out:
Vito Russo Award: Andy Cohen [presented by Sarah Jessica Parker]
Outstanding Drama Series: Pose (FX) [accepted by: creators Ryan Murphy and Steven Canals, and cast members including Billy Porter, Janet Mock, Mj Rodriguez, Indya Moore, Dominique Jackson, Angelica Ross, Our Lady J, Dyllon Burnside, Hailie Sahar, and Ryan Jamal Swain; presented by Rachel Brosnahan]
Outstanding Variety or Talk Show Episode: “Trans Rights Under Attack” Full Frontal with Samantha Bee (TBS) [accepted by: Samantha Bee; presented by Adam Rippon and Lilly Singh]
Outstanding TV Journalism Segment: “Same Sex Couple Reacts to Supreme Court Ruling” CNN Tonight with Don Lemon (CNN) [accepted by: Don Lemon; presented by Mj Rodriguez, Indya Moore, and Dominique Jackson]
Outstanding Film – Limited Release: Boy Erased (Focus Features)
Outstanding TV Movie or Limited Series: The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story (FX)
Outstanding Music Artist: Janelle Monáe, Dirty Computer (Bad Boy Records)
Outstanding TV Journalism – Newsmagazine: “Conversion Therapy: God Only Knows” CBS Sunday Morning (CBS)
Outstanding Newspaper Article: “He Took a Drug to Prevent AIDS. Then He Couldn’t Get Disability Insurance.” by Donald G. McNeil Jr. (The New York Times)
Outstanding Digital Journalism Article: “Bermuda Same-sex Marriage Ban Means Trouble for Tourism and Cruise Ships” by Ryan Ruggiero (CNBC.com)
Outstanding Digital Journalism – Video or Multimedia: “March for Our Lives and LGBT activism. ‘They’re definitely linked for me,’ says Emma González” by Beth Greenfield (Yahoo! Lifestyle)
Outstanding Blog: Pittsburgh Lesbian Correspondents
Outstanding Scripted Television Series (Spanish-Language): Elite (Netflix) and Mi marido tiene más familia (Univision) [TIE]
Outstanding TV Journalism Segment (Spanish-Language): “Primera Pareja Gay en Casarse en un Consulado Mexicano” Noticias Telemundo Mediodía (Telemundo