Madonna delivered a deeply personal and moving speech at Billboard Women in Music 2016 that touched on feminism, sexism and her first introduction to the NYC LGBT community in the late 70s.
“People were dying of AIDS everywhere,” Madonna said. “It wasn’t safe to be gay, it wasn’t cool to be associated with the gay community. It was 1979 and New York was a very scary place. In the first year I was held at gunpoint, raped on a rooftop with a knife digging into my throat and I had my apartment broken into and robbed so many times I stopped locking the door. In the years that followed, I lost almost every friend I had to AIDS or drugs or gunshots.”
Madonna also spoke about how David Bowie helped her realize that women and men are treated differently:
“I was of course inspired by Debbie Harry and Chrissie Hynde and Aretha Franklin, but my real muse was David Bowie. He embodied male and female and that suited me just fine. He made me think there are no rules…. But that was wrong. There are no rules if you’re a boy. There are rules if you’re a girl.”
Watch part of her speech below: