GLAAD to honour Madonna for LGBT rights activism with rare award

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LGBT+ media charity GLAAD has announced it will honour Madonna with a rare award at the 30th GLAAD Media Awards, scheduled for May 4 in New York City.

The LGBT+ icon and pop star will receive the Advocate for Change Award to recognise her longtime activism for the LGBT+ community, GLAAD revealed on Tuesday (February 5).

“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 in a statement.

Ellis praised Madonna’s advocacy on a series of issues affecting LGBT+ people both in the US and in the rest of the world, including the HIV crisis—in 1989, she included a leaflet raising awareness about the virus and safe sex in every copy of her album Like a Prayer.

“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,” Ellis said.

Madonna has stood by the LGBT+ community in the US and abroad

Madonna started the year with a performance at Stonewall Inn to mark the 50th anniversary of the 1969 riots that gave birth to the modern LGBT+ rights movement.

Addressing the crowd on New Year’s Eve, Madonna said: “I stand here proudly at the place where pride began, the legendary Stonewall Inn, on the birth of a new year.

“I have had the privilege of using my art as a vehicle for change. To provoke, to inspire, to wake people up, and to bring the LGBTQ community with me.”

— Madonna

“We come together tonight to celebrate 50 years of revolution, 50 years of freedom fighting, 50 years of blood, sweat, and tears. Can I get an amen?”

She continued: “I have had the privilege of using my art as a vehicle for change. To provoke, to inspire, to wake people up, and to bring the LGBTQ community with me.

“There is so much destruction in the world, but you cannot stop art, and creation always wins in the end. As we move forward, let’s not forget the work we had to do from the ground up.

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“We must never forget where we’ve been. and the challenges and roadblocks along the way. We must never forget where we came from.”

US singer Madonna performs on stage during her MDNA tour at St. Petersburg's Sports and Concert Complex on August 9, 2012.

Madonna distributed pink wristbands to those attending her St Petersburg concert in 2012 to protest performance the city’s ban on “homosexual propaganda.” (Olga Maltseva/AFP/Getty)

It wasn’t the first time Madonna used her platform to express support for the LGBT+ community.

The pop queen defied the Russian authorities in 2012 when she performed in St Petersburg, a city which had just passed a ban on the “promotion of homosexuality” to minor, and distributed pink bracelets to concert attendees to symbolise solidarity with the LGBT+ community.

During the show, she demanded “respect, tolerance and love” for the LGBT community and said: “We want to fight for the right to be free.”

Madonna faced charges for violating the ban, but these were later dropped.

In 2013, Madonna presented a GLAAD award to CNN journalist Anderson Cooper. She wore a Boy Scouts of America’s uniform to the ceremony to protest the group’s exclusion of LGBT+ people.

Coincidentally, the 2013 GLAAD Media Awards ceremony marked the only other time the organisation handed out the GLAAD Advocate for Change Award that Madonna is now due to receive.

At the time, it was given out to former President Bill Clinton for his advocacy work to overturn the anti-LGBT Defense of Marriage Act and advance marriage equality nationwide.

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