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Madonna shares emotional tributes to gay friends who lost their lives to AIDS

The singer used World AIDS Day to commemorate two of her closest friends.

By Will Stroude

Words: Will Stroude

Madonna has marked World AIDS Day (December 1) with a series of heartfelt tributes to her gay friends who lost their lives to the disease.

The Queen of Pop, who consistently used her platform to raise AIDS awareness in the late ’80s and early ’90s during the height of the crisis, honoured lost friends including artist Keith Haring and former roommate Martin Burgoyne as she called for an end to the stigma surrounding HIV.

“Today is #WorldAIDSDay. Let’s pause and reflect. We have lost so many incredible people to this disease and yet we have found no cure. Please GOD in this lifetime. #Wakeupworld #globalfamily”, Madonna wrote.

The 60-year-old entertainer later shared a picture of herself with Haring, the influential pop art and grafitti artist who died in 1990 at the age of 31.

The pair had first met in the early ’80s at legendary New York Club Danceteria. where Madonna was working as a coat-check girl and Haring as a busboy. She would later perform ‘Dress You Up’ in a costume designed by her friend in 1984, before using a Haring-inspired set design on her ‘Sticky and Sweet Tour’.

Following Haring’s untimely death in 1990, Madonna announced that the first date of her Blond Ambition World Tour would be a benefit concert in her former friend’s memory, with all proceeds from tickets sales going to AIDS organisations.

Alongside the picture of the pair posted to Instagram on Saturday (December 1), Madonna recalled the dehumanising stigma and discrimination Haring had faced following his AIDS diagnosis.

 “With My Good Friend Kieth Haring. He was a big AIDS activist when everyone was calling it GAY cancer,” she wrote.

“I was with him the day he died of AIDS. He said what hurt him the most was how people did not want to touch door knobs after he touched them.

“The discrimination then was next level.”

Madonna, who famously included a leaflet called ‘The Facts about AIDS’ in the sleeve of her 1990 album Like a Prayer, also paid tribute to her former roomate Martin Burgoyne, who died from AIDS-related complications in 1986 aged just 23.

Madonna pictured with her former roomate Martine Burgoyne, who died from AIDS-related complications in 1986 aged 23.

Burgoyne had shared an apartment with Madonna in New York’s Lower East Side before the singer’s rise to fame in 1983 and later managed her first tour and drew the cover image of 1983’s Burning Up EP album cover.

Sharing an old picture of herself in pair’s former apartment, Madonna recalled how she had held Martin’s hand as he died following his battle with AIDS.

“In my apartment on the L.E.S. [Lower East Side] where I lived with my best friend Martin Burgoyne who died of AIDS,” she wrote.

“I held his hand as his spirit left his body. He was so beautiful and talented and full of life like so many others.

“In those days it ravaged people and took so many lives in the blink of an eye. We have come along way but we still have NO cure!

“Let’s pray for this and more tolerance in the world.”

Observed on December 1 every year since 1988, World AIDS Day is an international day dedicated to raising awareness of the AIDS pandemic caused by the spread of HIV infection and mourning those who have died of the disease.

You can make a donation to the National AIDS Trust and join the fight here.