This year’s GLAAD Media Awards honored Madonna with the Advocate for Change Award, and she used her emotional speech to reflect on the past three decades she dedicated to activism on behalf of the LGBTQ community.
The Queen of Pop kicked off her speech by recalling the first time she went to a gay club with her ballet teacher, and witnessing the “kind of freedom and joy and happiness” that she’d 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,” said Madonna in her speech.
She also took a moment to pay tribute to several of her friends she lost to the AIDS epidemic, and how this loss inspired her to fight back and become a true ally to the LGBTQ community.
“Death and loss brought me new life. Brought me to life. Brought me to love… 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,” concluded Madonna.