Just over one week after Madonna was named a Stonewall ambassador for the 50th anniversary of the 1969 riots that marked the start of the modern LGBTQ rights movement, she made a surprise performance at the Stonewall Inn on New Year’s Eve.
The 60-year-old “Queen of Pop” took to the stage with her son, David Banda, who played guitar as she sang two songs and made a motivational speech in support of the LGBTQ community.
“I stand here proudly at the place where Pride began, the legendary Stonewall Inn, on the birth of a new year,” she said on stage. “We come together tonight to celebrate 50 years of revolution.”
Madonna, who has long used her platform on stage to advocate for a wide range of LGBTQ rights ranging from marriage equality to an end to the bullying of gay teens, was also spotted at the Stonewall Inn on December 11, when she posted a photo on Instagram as she stood next to an old NYPD sign that read “THIS IS A RAIDED PREMISES,” reflecting an era when gay bars were regularly raided by police.
Though the Stonewall protests are seen as key to the wider effort by the LGBTQ community to push back against harassment and legal barriers, members of the Mattachine Society, one of the first gay rights organizations in the US, held a “sip-in” at Julius’ bar in 1966 to protest the city’s ban on serving alcohol to gay folks. Stonewall followed three years later.
The 50th anniversary coincides with the festivities of WorldPride, which will be held in New York this year and is expected to draw unprecedented crowds. The city is gearing up for an enormous celebration, though Heritage of Pride, organizer of the annual events, has seen resistance from those unhappy with the police and corporate presence in the parade that has grown over the years.
The Reclaim Pride Coalition sought a city permit to host its own march after it was unsuccessful in convincing HOP to give in to its demands for reform.
Whether a separate march will receive its own city permit is not yet clear, but the HOP event takes place on June 30.