“I wouldn’t have a career if it weren’t for the gay community.”
“We cannot use the name of God or religion to justify acts of violence — to hurt, to hate.”
“The gay community and gay people here and all around the world have the same rights — to be treated with dignity, with respect, with tolerance, with compassion, with love.”
These quotes are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Madonna — who turns 65, Wednesday, August 16th, — and her tireless support for the LGBTQ community. Check the receipts — they’re detailed and long.
Sixty-five is certainly a milestone birthday, yet for iconic male entertainers, it usually warrants no more than a quick mention or passing glance. Not so for the Queen of Pop, of course.
She alluded to this with her signature bite when she was honored as Woman of the Year by Billboard in 2016. If you’re a woman, she said, “do not age, because to age is a sin… you will be criticized and vilified, and definitely not played on the radio.”
She was right to call out the double standard. Madonna, of course, is a woman who has always defied convention. Why should she be any different now? Ageing “gracefully” is not for this birthday girl — and thank goodness for that!
For her to dare to still be sexual, embodied, audacious, and hungry this long into her legendary career is a gift to all of us in the LGBTQ community.
Although my friend Matthew Rettenmund wrote an eloquent piece earlier this year highlighting Madonna’s continued relevance, I’d like to place my own bouquet next to his because today is a day to celebrate — to be grateful we still have this indelible icon here not just to entertain us, but to inspire our community and connect precious threads of our history.
There were strong women in music before Madonna — Chrissie Hynde and Debbie Harry certainly come to mind. But Madonna redefined what that meant entirely and made it arena-sized. Taylor Swift and Beyonce owe some part of their unprecedented touring success — their ability to perform on a mass scale with total liberation, empowered sexuality, and artistic freedom — to Madonna paving the way.
To use the cliché, she walked so they could run.