The following are letters and essays from members of the LGBTQ community for Madonna in celebration of her 60th birthday.
Throughout your storied career, you have been a source of strength to not only myself but countless others in the LGBTQ community around the world. One of my fondest childhood memories is dancing to “Papa Don’t Preach” at my first real party. I recall a sense of freedom I hadn’t felt before.
When I was younger, I remember seeing your bold music videos and performances and I felt proud and empowered to see a woman shrugging off societal expectations of who she should be. You are unapologetically strong and fearless — someone who has always blazed her own trail, and that will make you a beacon of inspiration for years to come.
And as the president of the world largest LGBTQ media advocacy organization, it has always been important to me that you have long been a stalwart and true ally to the LGBTQ community. Your support has meant the world to so many — you are truly an LGBTQ icon. Beyond your amazing body of work, I think part of why you are an icon to our community is because what you stand for resonates very deeply with us. You throw out the status quo, you break down barriers, and you have freed yourself from so many of the confines that our society places on people — something LGBTQ people can relate to.
You have also given back so much through your many philanthropic endeavors – raising awareness about HIV and AIDS, standing with GLAAD and so many others to stop discrimination in one of America’s oldest institutions — the Boy Scouts of America — and the Ray of Light Foundation, to name a few. The world needs more people like you — ones who have attained so much success but never hesitate to give back and pay it forward.
So Madonna, I hope that you have an amazing birthday — you deserve nothing but the happiness and joy that your music has given to the world.
SARAH KATE ELLIS is the president and CEO of GLAAD.