Madonna confessed she “felt like an outsider” as she was presented with the Advocate for Change Award at the 2019 GLAAD Media Awards on Saturday night.
The 60-year-old pop icon was given the honor at the ceremony in New York Hilton Midtown for her lifetime of work promoting lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) acceptance in popular culture.
Madonna was introduced onstage by her A League of Their Own co-star, Rosie O’Donnell, and began her emotional speech by confessing that she wasn’t popular when she was a teenager.
“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,” she shared.
She then paid a sweet tribute to her first dance teacher and mentor.
“The first gay man I ever met was named Christopher Flynn,” the Hung Up hitmaker explained. “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 that I was beautiful.”
She cheekily added: “He took me to my first gay club in downtown Detroit. I told my dad I was having a sleepover at a girlfriend’s house ” that got me grounded for the rest of the summer.”
The pop superstar also revealed that she was inspired to fight for LGBTQ rights after the deaths of two of her close 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,” Madonna said.
GLAAD is the world’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer media advocacy organization.
The event, hosted by RuPaul’s Drag Race alum and A Star Is Born’s Shangela, also honoured TV host Andy Cohen, singer Janelle Monae and comedienne Samantha Bee.