GLAAD’s Advocate for Change Award was previously given to President Bill Clinton in 2013 during the 24th Annual GLAAD Media Awards for his advocacy work to overturn the anti-LGBTQ Defense of Marriage Act and advance marriage equality nationwide. During the 30th Annual GLAAD Media Awards in New York City on May 4, 2019, Madonna will become only the second person and first woman ever to receive this honor.
“Madonna always has and always will be the LGBTQ community’s greatest ally and it is only fitting to honor and celebrate our biggest advocate at GLAAD’s biggest event ever,” said GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis. “From the HIV crisis to international LGBTQ issues, 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.”
In addition to GLAAD celebrating the 30th anniversary of the GLAAD Media Awards, Madonna also celebrates a thirtieth anniversary this year. In 1989, she released her fourth studio album Like a Prayer, which went on to go quadruple platinum and spark countless LGBTQ anthems.
Madonna’s support for the LGBTQ community started at the beginning of her career during the HIV/AIDS crisis in the 1980s. She performed at AIDS benefit concerts, created a benefit dance marathon, and spoke out and demanded action at a time when AIDS was too often invisible in the media. Madonna also included a leaflet in her album Like a Prayer entitled “The Facts about AIDS” in which she gave fans crucial information about AIDS. Madonna also wrote a song on her album Erotica called “In This Life” as a tribute to her friends who had passed away from AIDS. In 1991, Madonna’s documentary Truth or Dare showcased her dancers, who were almost all gay and were free to depict themselves authentically on camera, as encouraged by Madonna herself. In 1997, Madonna played a key role in Ellen DeGeneres’ historic coming out, giving DeGeneres words of support and comfort, despite the fact that the two had never met before.
More recently, Madonna has continued to use her platform to support the LGBTQ community, speaking out against anti-LGBTQ laws, policies, and practices. Madonna has spoken out for LGBTQ equality in Romania, Malawi, Russia and more and she continues to advocate for equality in the United States. She has also spoken against bullying of LGBTQ youth and related LGBTQ youth suicide. In 2013, when presenting Anderson Cooper with the Vito Russo Award at the 24th Annual GLAAD Media Awards, she dressed as a Boy Scout in protest of the Boy Scouts of America’s ban on LGBTQ people. This past New Year’s Eve, Madonna gave a surprise performance at the Stonewall Inn, an historic venue for LGBTQ rights, to celebrate its upcoming anniversary and, in her words, “fifty years of revolution.” Madonna has also participated in intersectional advocacy, speaking at the first Women’s March on Washington for women’s equality, and speaking out against Trump’s child detention policy.
When responding to the imprisonment of two men who had been jailed in Malawi for marrying, Madonna released a statement that completely summarizes her commitment and support of the LGBTQ community, writing: “As a matter of principle, I believe in equal rights for all people, no matter what their gender, race, color, religion, or sexual orientation. This week, Malawi took a giant step backward. The world is filled with pain and suffering; therefore, we must support our basic human right to love and be loved.”
For more, head over to GLAAD.org.