South O’ the Highway

Madonna Surprises Stonewall Inn with a Powerful New Year’s Performance

The gay icon commemorates 50 years since the transformative Stonewall Riots.

Bridgehamptonite Madonna brought 2018 to a close on one of the most intimate stages of her career: the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village. At the stroke of midnight, Madonna performed a short set of two songs—”Like a Prayer” and Elvis Presley’s “Can’t Help Falling in love”—with acoustic accompaniment by her son David Banda to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, which sparked the gay rights movement.

The Advocate reports that Madonna recently signed on as a Stonewall Ambassador under the organization Pride Live, and this surprise appearance was part of the organization’s goal to raise awareness of the riots and the ongoing fight for equality. On January 1, Madonna posted a photo to Instagram, featuring her and her son onstage captioned: “Me and my favorite Freedom Fighter at Stonewall Inn! An unforgettable New Year’s Eve!!” On January 2, she shared a video of the night’s highlights, including pieces of her acoustic rendition of “Like a Prayer.”

Prior to her set, she told the crowd, “Fifty 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!'”

She continued, “For years, violent and humiliating police raids were common occurrences at gay sanctuaries across the country. Discrimination and unjust treatment was beyond comprehension. No gathering place for the LGBTQ community was truly safe, and our brothers and sisters weren’t free to celebrate like we are tonight. And we must never forget that. A half a century later, Stonewall has become a defining moment and a critical turning point in history—catapulting LGBTQ rights into public conversation and consciousness and awakening gay activism.”

The pop icon, doesn’t just want us to remember the past, but also to look to the future, “Let’s take a moment to reflect on how we can bring more peace and love into 2019…I walk in the shadow of giants, of freedom fighters who have gone before me, but let’s be giants ourselves.”

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