I was 11 when we got MTV in our small town, and I don’t have to tell anyone my age that it was a game-changer. Our icons became real, living beings. Videos were short films, many with themes, but few had a message. Hers did. She encouraged women to be powerful. She talked openly about sexuality in a positive way, just as the AIDS crisis was beginning and her own friends were sick and dying. She made PSAs for condom use and used what would become the common phrase “safe sex” ages before most of us. She talked about AIDS, was photographed kissing and cuddling with her stricken friends, unafraid and trying to educate us to join her. She had the first fundraisers, brought other celebrities into the cause, and threw her support behind the caregivers and activists. Through it all, she referenced LOVE.
She never stopped talking about sex, or demonstrating the strength of women, or supporting (and funding) people living with HIV. She began to inspire me all those years ago, and she changed my life. Happy birthday, Madonna. I am eternally grateful.
by Amy Reese, who expresses herself as THP’s Director of Clinical Services