The singer is noted as one of the most impactful and influential figures in pop culture since the 1980s.
With sales of over 300 million records worldwide, she is certified as the best-selling female musician of all time and credited with paving the way for women in pop music.
She is also the most successful solo artist in the history of the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart and has achieved the most number-one singles by a woman in Australia, Canada, Italy, Spain, and the United Kingdom.
With a revenue of over U.S. $1.5 billion from her concert tickets, she remains the highest-grossing female touring artist worldwide.
She’s also a tireless ally to gay people and for LGBTQ+ rights.
Happy Birthday Queen of Pop, Madonna!
A tireless LGBTQ+ rights activist & one of the most influential figures in pop culture since the 80s. M is the certified best-selling female of all time & widely credited with paving the way for women in pop music.pic.twitter.com/MIy7kDkHuO
— Gay Memes ItsLitGayShit (@itslitgayshitt) August 16, 2022
Madonna has queer icon status not just because of her creative output, but as a result of her activism and contribution to LGBT+ rights. Notably so during the 1980s and 1990s, when the majority of people in the US and around the world were hostile towards the LGBT+ community.
“Unlike her contemporary pop stars, … Madonna seems to want her lesbian and gay fans,” was a review from Lisa Anderson in 1993.
Hugely important in the DNA of Pride Month is the action of visibility.
Madonna helped to mainstream gay and queer acceptance during a period when much of the press demonized gay men as predatory, when society was far less secular, when our very existence was considered shameful, and during the height of the HIV and AIDS crisis.
The physical single (way before streaming) for Madonna’s ‘Like A Prayer’ included a “The Facts About AIDS” card insert, which referred to AIDS as “an equal opportunity disease.”
The music video was groundbreaking for its time, but The Vatican condemned its imagery following the release, while family and religious groups protested against its broadcast. They boycotted products by soft drink manufacturer Pepsi, who had used the song in a commercial.
Pepsi cancelled its sponsorship contract with Madonna, but allowed her to retain the fee.
The full video, directed by Mary Lambert, portrays Madonna witnessing a young white woman being killed by a group of white men, while a Black man is arrested for the murder.
The video also features the Ku Klux Klan’s burning crosses and a dream about kissing a Black saint.
LaP was Written and produced by Madonna and Patrick Leonard.
Leonard later said he wanted to remove dual meaning lyrics, such as “I’m down on my knees, I want to take you there”, because of sexual innuendo, but they stayed in at Madonna’s insistence.
Thought her decades-spanning career, Madonna has raised millions for HIV and AIDS charities alone.
“Fighting for all marginalized people is a duty and an honor I could not turn my back on nor will I ever,” she told audience members at the GLAAD Media Awards in 2019, when she was honored with the Advocate for Change Award.
“The AIDS epidemic, the plague that moved in like a black cloud in New York City, and in the blink of an eye,” then snapping her fingers, “took out all of my friends.”
“I remember the pandemonium and the fear, and people trying all kinds of drugs that didn’t work,” she continued. “And doing my own drug runs to Mexico for my friends to buy experimental medicines that were supposed help cure, but ended up only killing them faster.”
(1/3) Madonna is a pop icon not without her faults, but she really deserves more respect for her constant championing of the LGBTQ community. Here are some portions of a really moving speech at the 2019 GLAAD Awards, where she talks about her memories of the HIV/AIDS epidemic: pic.twitter.com/Df6cI3SXmC
— Olly (@ollywldrn) August 27, 2020
She went on to recall visits to sick friends during the ‘80s at St. Vincent’s Hospital, ground zero for New York City’s AIDs epidemic.
“It felt like I had entered a concentration camp,” she said. “Emaciated bodies in every bed, and all these people who had been abandoned by their families and their friends and their loved ones. I decided to defy the universe and get into every bed and put my arms around as many humans as I could and make them feel loved — and human.”
In closing, she said, “As soon as you really understand what it means to love, you understand what it takes to become a human being, and that it is every human’s duty to fight, to advocate, to do whatever we can and whatever it takes.”
Madonna, almost impossibly, achieved certified status as one of the most successful female recording artists in history despite her unpopular views about gay and queer rights being not the mood of a then hostile society which she was thriving in.
During her career, Madonna has attracted contradictory social-cultural attention from family organizations, feminists, anti-porn, radical terrorists and religious groups worldwide with boycott, censorship and protests.
In the early-2010s, the Islamic state banned her name.
Author Shmuley Boteach accused her of destroying “the female recording industry by erasing the line that separates music from pornography”.
Just a handful of notable Madonna being a MVA (Most Valuable Ally) moments:
1) Decades of AIDS/ HIV activism.
— Grindr (@Grindr) August 16, 2021
2) The ‘Truth or Dare’ documentary where Madonna is Queen, but the Gays rule too.
3) Speaking out for gay youth.
4) Madonna supported stars like Ellen DeGeneres and Rosie O’Donnell in coming out, during a time when they risked their careers by being open.
5. Slaying the 1999 VMAs with drag tribute, before drag was popularized in the mainstream
6) ‘In This Life’ a song for her friends who died from AIDS
6) Dressing as a by scout to slam the organization’s ban on gay Scouts and Scout leaders.
7) During a 1992 interview, Madonna gracefully responded to rumours that she had HIV – which began simply because she advocated for prevention- replying it would be “nothing to be ashamed of”.
“I don’t think it’s anything to be ashamed of.”— Matthew Hodson (@Matthew_Hodson) February 8, 2022
Madonna in 1992 responding to false rumours that she was living with #HIV.
This was before effective treatment, before #UequalsU.
What a champion! #HIVShamelesspic.twitter.com/zKmxZSyg4U
reminder that madonna has been advocating for HIV/AIDS prevention for over 30 years, from the time most people thought AIDS was god’s curse to kill gays. she was doing more then than most people do now. fucking legend pic.twitter.com/uS2YLihfIw— matt (@mattxiv) July 30, 2021
8) The physical single for Madonna’s ‘Like A Prayer’ included a “The Facts About AIDS” card insert, which referred to AIDS as “an equal opportunity disease.”
As a result of her creative output and tireless activism, Madonna is considered by many to be one of the greatest LGBTQ+ icons the world has known.
Respect to the queen.
— GLUE magazine 🏳️🌈 🏳️⚧️ (@thegluemagazine) August 16, 2021