Madonna: The Truth Is She Never Left You
Also on January 23rd, speaking of the promotional machine around the debut of MDNA, MadonnaTribe reported that the Queen of Pop was going to be featured on two major US magazines.
And here she is on the first one, Madonna back on the cover of The Advocate with an image based on a picture from the “W.E.” world premiere at the Venice Film Festival last year.
“Nearly 30 years into her reign as the greatest gay icon, Madonna is back in a big way with her new film, W.E., and her first studio album in four years, reminding us why so many adore her.”
Check out “Madonna: The Truth Is She Never Left You“, by Ari Karpel, on Advocate.com and at your local news stand.
Here’s an excerpt:
When Madonna first became famous, almost 30 years ago, she was defined by that very quality: She was no victim.
For the gay men who were there in the beginning, when she was shaking it on the dance floors of New York City, the men who reveled in her early hits, Madonna was the ultimate expression of in-your-face sexuality. She was self-possessed and uninhibited. She dressed up for the party, and she took it all off for the after-party.
Her impact wasn’t limited to gay men. Madonna boldly toyed with transgender imagery on a grand stage: She co-opted the Harlem drag balls for the Vogue video, she featured trans people and cross-dressers of all stripes in her banned Justify My Love video, and her coffee-table tome, Sex, posited couples in all sorts of configurations. Her high profile are-they-or-aren’t-they friendships with such queer women as Sandra Bernhard, Rosie O’Donnell, and Ingrid Casares as well as her promotion of bisexual artists like Meshell Ndegeocello helped to take queer sensibility into the mainstream.
In the midst of the AIDS crisis, when fear was rampant and gay men were dying at a horrifying rate, Madonna was among the first to take a stand, to say, as she did in the tour documentary Truth or Dare, that it’s OK to be a gay man who is openly sexual.
That it’s OK to be gay, period, Madonna says emphatically before launching into an impassioned recounting of her experience of the AIDS onslaught. I was extremely affected by it. I remember lying on a bed with a friend of mine who was a musician, and he had been diagnosed with this kind of cancer, but nobody knew what it was. He was this beautiful man, and I watched him kind of waste away, and then another gay friend, and then another gay friend, and then another gay friend. They were all artists and all truly special and dear to me.
In retrospect, Madonna sees that as the moment when her sense of self became entangled with that of gay men. I saw how people treated them differently, she says. I saw the prejudices, and I think probably I got that confused with, intertwined with, you know, maybe things that ways that people treated me differently.
As Madonna reinvented herself, gay fans hung on through thick and thin, through Who’s That Girl and Body of Evidence, weathering reported flings with Dennis Rodman and Vanilla Ice. Fans bowed down at the sight of her as Evita and shored up support upon hearing Ray of Light, only to have to endure Swept Away and American Life and that British accent. It’s been a bumpy ride for Madonna fans.
Perhaps Madonna wasn’t the only one to confuse her personal treatment with that of gay men. The feeling was mutual. As she exploded in popularity Madonna became identified with the collective gay male sense of self. So when she moved on, devoting less and less time to her gay compatriots, many felt a twinge of abandonment. That’s when bitching about Madonna became the great gay pastime.
I never left them, insists Madonna, echoing a lyric from Evita. When you’re single, you certainly have more time to socialize and hang out with your gay friends, but then you get married and you have a husband and you have children, and your husband wants you to spend time with him. I’m not married anymore, but I have four kids, and I don’t have a lot of time for socializing. She’s been back in New York for two years, after splitting with Ritchie.
I hope nobody’s taking that personally. It certainly was not a conscious decision. As it stands, most of my friends in England are gay. But I’m back, she says, adding reassuringly, Never fear.