People expected something a week ago when Stonewall Inn — the bar in New York’s Greenwich Village where the riots that kicked off the modern LGBTQ movement took place in 1969 — announced that Madonna had been named an ambassador for the 50th anniversary celebrations. However, they may not have expected it quite so soon. On New Year’s Eve, word leaked out that Madonna would be making an appearance, and not long after midnight, she did, giving a speech and then performing two songs accompanied by David Banda (her adopted 13-year-old son) on acoustic guitar.
Wearing black jeans, a black shirt, a black leather jacket with glittering chains and a shiny bow in her hair, Madonna took the tiny stage saying, “I just wanna say I’ve never performed on a stage this small!” The enraptured crowd cheered wildly, obscuring some of her words.
“You survived 2018? Are you happy to say ‘Goodbye bitch’?,” she laughed before saying, “I do have some serious things to say.” She donned a pair of horn-rimmed glasses — “2019 is the year I start wearing glasses,” she joked — and read from cards emblazoned with rainbow colors on the back.
“I stand here proudly at the place where pride began, the legendary Stonewall Inn, on the birth of a new year. We come together tonight to celebrate 50 years of revolution.”
She then spoke of the community’s efforts against “hatred, discrimination and most of all indifference. Let’s never forget the Stonewall Riots and those who stood up and said, ‘Enough.’ Half a century later, Stonewall has become a defining moment and a critical point in history.
“If you can’t imagine how happy I am to return home to New York City, where dreams are born and forged out of fire and brought to life, where I am proud to say that my journey as an artist began, and my commitment to equality for all people took root,” she continued.
“If we truly took the time to get to know one another we would find that we all bleed the same color and we all need to love and be loved,” she concluded. “Let’s remember who and what we are fighting for — ourselves, for each other, but truly and most importantly, what are we fighting for?” she asked rhetorically. “Let’s take a minute to reflect on how we can bring more love and peace into 2019, let’s look at how we can bring random acts of kindness. Maybe we can find an opening to bring the light in. Are you ready to do that?”
The crowd roared.
She continued to speak and joke and laugh with the crowd before leading them in a singalong of her own “Like a Prayer” — accompanied by an acoustic guitarist, her own voice was completely drowned out by the crowd — and then after more joking, she led them into another singalong, this one of Elvis Presley’s 1961 hit “Can’t Help Falling in Love.”
Watch most of the performance on MadonnasTattoos Instagram video.
Additional reporting by Marc Malkin.