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An emotional Madonna recalls when ‘people were dying of AIDS everywhere’

An emotional Madonna recalls when ‘people were dying of AIDS everywhere’

Madonna says New York City was 'a scary place' when she got there in late 1970s.

Madonna looked back more than 30 years while accepting the Woman of the Year award at Billboard’s Women In Music 2016 event on Friday (9 December) and it was an emotional trip.

Most harrowing were her memories of her early days as an unknown in New York City where she moved as a teenager and where the event was held.

‘People were dying of AIDS everywhere. It wasn’t safe to be gay, it wasn’t cool to be associated with the gay community,’ she recalled.

‘It was 1979 and New York was a very scary place. In the first year I was held at gunpoint, raped on a rooftop with a knife digging into my throat and I had my apartment broken into and robbed so many times I stopped locking the door. In the years that followed, I lost almost every friend I had to AIDS or drugs or gunshots.’

Madonna was brutally honest throughout the speech.

‘I stand before you as a doormat. Oh, I mean, as a female entertainer,’ she said at the start.

‘Thank you for acknowledging my ability to continue my career for 34 years in the face of blatant sexism and misogyny and constant bullying and relentless abuse.’

CNN anchor Anderson Cooper, who is openly gay, introduced Madonna and shared how important she was to him on a personal level.

‘As a gay teenager growing up, her music and outspokenness showed me as a teenager a way forward,’ he said.

‘Through her music, she told me and millions of teenagers — gay and straight — that we are not alone. We are connected to each other.’