Sir Elton John gives emotional speech as he accepts Harvard humanitarian award
Sir Elton John has been honoured for his humanitarian work on HIV AIDS.
The legendary singer was given the 2017 Harvard Humanitarian of the Year Award in recognition for his work in support of HIV/AIDS research.
He was joined at the awards by his husband David Furnish and their two sons.
Accepting the honour, he called frontline workers “the bravest and most compassionate people I have ever met”.
Since founding the Elton John AIDS Foundation in 1992, the organisation has raised $385 million for HIV/AIDS awareness.
The Dean of the College Rakesh Khurana praised Sir Elton, saying: “Sir Elton John is a living embodiment of that Harvard College mission statement.
“He has used his gifts and talents to serve the world.”
Sir Elton told the audience of over 1,000 people: “When society embraces the humanity of everyone, everywhere, this world will start to come together and to heal.”
The performer also opened up about his own struggles with drug addiction, admitting: “I’m really a kind person, but the drugs made me a monster.
“Do not waste your life. I wasted my life, but I’m making up for lost time now.”
He went on to say that it was “through humanitarian pursuits that my life took on vastly new meaning”.
In 1975 during “Elton Week” in Los Angeles, Elton suffered from a drug overdose, and in 2013 told the Today show that he felt as though he had “wasted a big part” of his life on drugs, and didn’t see himself as a drug addict for a long time.
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“I came very close to dying. I’d have an epileptic seizure and turn blue and people would find me on the floor and put me to bed, and then 40 minutes later I’d be snorting another line.
Sir Elton lost many friends both to drug addiction and to HIV-related illnesses, admitting that he felt lucky to be alive after his former risky behaviour.
“When you take a drug and you take a drink and you mix those two together, you think you’re invincible,” he said.
“I came out of this HIV-negative. I was the luckiest man in the world.”