Madonna tears up during emotional speech on World AIDS Day

Madonna Celebration Tour
Image: Raph_PH/Flick/Creative Commons

Madonna held back tears as she gave her concert audience a heart-to-heart gay history lesson in a speech on World AIDS Day.

The singer is currently in Europe on her Celebration Tour, with each concert stacked with her greatest hits.

During each show, Madonna sings her 1986 ballad Live To Tell as visuals display the faces of people – including many of her friends – lost to AIDS.

On Friday night (December 1), Madonna was in Amsterdam and at her concert that night she commemorated World AIDS Day with an emotional speech.

“Today is World AIDS Day. Do you know that? Is that important to everybody?” she asked the crowd.

“Maybe it seems like it’s so far away that it doesn’t mean anything, that it’s just another holiday.

“But let me explain something to you: there is no cure for AIDS and people still die of AIDS. Did you know that?”

Madonna noted that “just five people” in the crowd said “yes”.

“When I first came to New York, I was lucky enough to meet and become friends with so many amazing artists, musicians, painters, singers, dancers, writers,” she said.

“The list goes on and on. And then one day, people started getting sick, and nobody could understand what was happening.

“People were just starting to lose weight. People were dropping like flies. They were going to the hospital and nobody knew what was happening.”

‘I lost so many friends and loved ones’

Madonna said the media starting calling the virus “the ‘gay cancer’ because it was predominantly in the gay community.”

“[This] was a terrible shame because, I don’t know if you understand this right now but in the early 80s, it was not cool to be gay. It was not accepted to be gay,” she said.

“Did you know that? Or do you just take it for granted right now?”

Madonna reminded the crowd, “To be able to stand up and say ‘I am a homosexual’ was a very brave action. Can you imagine what it was like in that time when being gay was considered sinful and disgusting?

“Suddenly the vast majority of the gay community started dropping like flies and people were dying everywhere.

“Every day I would wake up and hear a new story, a new friend, I’d be visiting someone new, I’d be sitting by their bedside watching somebody die.

“Meanwhile, nobody in the medical community wanted to do anything about it, because they said, ‘Well fuck it, they’re f___ts. They deserve to die.’

“It was a pretty devastating, scary time. I personally lost so many friends and loved ones. I would have cut off my arms if I could’ve found a cure for them to live,” she said, her voice breaking.

“For me, it was like a whole generation was wiped out.”

Today, thanks to modern medical advances, HIV is now manageable and those living with the virus live long, healthy lives.

Modern HIV medication can reduce levels of the virus so low they become “undetectable”. This means the person is no longer able to transmit HIV to sexual partners.

Madonna held her friend Martin’s hand as he died

Madonna spoke about her close friend Martin Burgoyne, an up-and-coming artist who died of AIDS-related complications at 23 in 1986.

“I was holding his hand. He was suffering so much, he could barely breathe. He wanted me to play Maria Callas… And I did,” she said.

“I said, ‘Please, Martin, let go.’ And I watched his spirit leave his body.

“I don’t know if you know this but, during Live to Tell he is the first face that appears. And there were so many others afterwards.”

Madonna concluded, “I’m not saying this cause I want you to feel sorry for me. I want you to recognize how lucky you are right now to be alive!”

Madonna spotlights those lost to AIDS on Celebration Tour
Image: Chris Weger/Flickr

‘Thank you Madonna for your advocacy and compassion’

Madonna has advocated for HIV awareness since the very start of her career. In 1989, the reigning gay icon included a fact sheet about HIV/AIDS inside every copy of her Like A Prayer album.

In October, Madonna’s best frenemy Elton John thanked the singer for again using her Celebration Tour to raise awareness.

Elton, on behalf of his Elton John AIDS Foundation, wrote on Instagram, “​​We’re deeply moved by the heartfelt tribute from @madonna during her Celebration Tour performance of “Live to Tell”, honouring the 40.4 million people we’ve lost to AIDS.

“Thank you, Madonna, for your advocacy and compassion, and for raising important awareness of the ongoing mission to end AIDS.

“With 39 million people living with HIV today, 9.4 million of whom are not currently on life-saving treatment, we must keep using our voices and platforms to ensure everyone has the opportunity to live full and healthy lives.”


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Jordan Hirst
Jordan Hirst

Jordan Hirst is an experienced journalist and content creator with a career spanning over a decade at QNews. Since 2012, the Brisbane local has covered an enormous range of topics and subjects in-depth affecting the LGBTIQA+ community, both in Australia and overseas. Today, the Brisbane-based journalist covers everything from current affairs, politics and health to sport and entertainment.

QNews, Brisbane Gay, App, Gay App, LGBTI, LGBTI News, Gay Australia

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