Words: Will Stroude
She's had the LGBT community's back since the earliest days of her career, so it was no surprise that Madonna brought in the 50th anniversary year of the Stonewall Riots with an unexpected performance at the iconic New York gay bar where it all began.
The Queen of Pop took to the tiny stage at the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village on New Year's Eve (December 31) to deliver an empowering speech about the infamous demonstrations of 28 June 1969, when a police raid at the venue sparked a fightback from members of the city's LGBT community.
After making her surprise entrance onto the venue's tiny stage, Madonna reminded the LGBT community that the fight against hatred and discrimination continues 50 years after the birth of the modern gay rights movement, before performing acoustic versions of 'Like a Prayer' and 'I Can’t Help Falling in Love with You' backed by her 13-year-old son David Banda on guitar.
"I stand here proudly at the place where pride began, the legendary Stonewall Inn, on the birth of a new year," the 60-year-old told the shell-shocked crowd of around 150 people.
"We come together tonight to celebrate 50 years of revolution, 50 years of freedom fighting, 50 years of blood, sweat, and tears. Can I get an amen?"
The legendary singer continued: "50 years of sacrifice, 50 years of standing up to discrimination, hatred and, worst of all, indifference. And it all started here, at Stonewall.
"Let us never forget the Stonewall Riots and those who bravely stood up and said, ‘enough.’
"Enough brutality. Enough violence inflicted on this community. Enough stigmatism. Enough pain and suffering.
"Our brothers and sisters before us weren’t free to celebrate like we are tonight, and we must never forget that."
Madonna, who famously included a leaflet educating fans about Aids in the sleeve of her 1989 album Like a Prayer, added: "Stonewall has become a critical turning point in history, catapulting LGBTQ rights into public conversation, and awakening gay activism.
Check out Madonna's full appearance at the Stonewall Inn below: