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Madonna marks Stonewall 50th anniversary with anthem ‘I Rise’

Nick Duffy May 3, 2019
Madonna performs onstage during the 2019 Billboard Music Awards at MGM Grand Garden Arena on May 1, 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Madonna performs onstage during the 2019 Billboard Music Awards at MGM Grand Garden Arena on May 1, 2019 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Ethan Miller/Getty)

Madonna has released “I Rise,” a new track marking the 50th anniversary of the LGBT+ rights movement.

The queen of pop revealed the track from upcoming album Madame X on Friday (May 3).

In a press release, she explained that the track is dedicated to marginalised groups, as the world prepares to mark the 50th anniversary of the 1969 Stonewall riots, considered the birthplace of the modern gay rights movement.

Madonna said: “I wrote ‘I Rise’ as a way of giving a voice to all marginalised people who feel they don’t have the opportunity to speak their mind.

“This year is the 50th anniversary of Pride and I hope this song encourages all individuals to be who they are, to speak their minds and to love themselves.”

The track begins by sampling Emma González, the 19-year-old bisexual gun control activist who survived the 2018 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

González can be heard saying: “[They say] us kids don’t know what we’re talking about, that we’re too young to understand how the government works. We call BS!”

The track also references French philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre with the lyrics: “Freedom’s what you choose to do with what’s been done to you/No one can hurt you now unless you want them to.”

Madonna celebrates ’50 years of revolution’ at Stonewall Inn

Madonna previously made a surprise appearance at New York City’s iconic Stonewall Inn on New Year’s Eve, giving a rousing speech to commemorate the anniversary.

She said: “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, 50 years of freedom fighting, 50 years of blood, sweat, and tears. Can I get an amen?

“50 years of sacrifice, 50 years of standing up to discrimination, hatred and, worst of all, indifference. And it all started here, at Stonewall.”

Madonna dances to the track "I Rise"
Madonna dances to the track “I Rise”

Madonna added: “Let us never forget the Stonewall riots and those who bravely stood up and said, ‘enough.’

“Enough brutality. Enough violence inflicted on this community. Enough stigmatism. Enough pain and suffering.

“Our brothers and sisters before us weren’t free to celebrate like we are tonight, and we must never forget that.

“Stonewall has become a critical turning point in history, catapulting LGBTQ rights into public conversation, and awakening gay activism. F**k yeah!”

The star has been an unwavering LGBT+ ally across her decades-spanning career, most notably including a leaflet with facts about the AIDS crisis in every copy of her 1989 album Like a Prayer.

In her speech to Stonewall, Madonna explained: “I have had the privilege of using my art as a vehicle for change. To provoke, to inspire, to wake people up, and to bring the LGBTQ community with me.

“There is so much destruction in the world, but you cannot stop art, and creation always wins in the end. As we move forward, let’s not forget the work we had to do from the ground up.

“We must never forget where we’ve been. and the challenges and roadblocks along the way. We must never forget where we came from.”

More: Gay, LGBT, Madonna, Music, Pride, Stonewall, stonewall riots

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