Madonna gives surprise New Year's Eve concert at historic Stonewall Inn

By Caroline Linton

/ CBS News

Madonna rang in 2019 at the historic Stonewall Inn in New York City, kicking off the 50th anniversary of the police raid and riots at the bar that are considered the birth of the gay rights movement. "I stand here proudly at the place where Pride began, the legendary Stonewall Inn, at the birth of a new year," she said, according to a video posted on Plus magazine's Facebook page.

The singer, who was named a Stonewall ambassador last week, called out "50 years of sacrifice, 50 years of standing up to discrimination, hatred and, worst of all, indifference." The crowd cheered as she urged people to not forget the sacrifice of the Stonewall riots.

"There is so much destruction in the world, but you cannot stop art," Madonna said. "And creation always wins in the end. So as we move forward, let's not forget the work we had to do from the ground up. We must never forget where we have been, challenges and the roadblocks along the way. We must never forget where we came from. This movement was born out of the need to survive — survive discrimination and hatred."

"Let's be giants in 2019!" — Madonna

Posted by HIV Plus Magazine on Monday, December 31, 2018

On June 28, 1969, police raided Stonewall Inn, at the time a well-known gay bar. The patrons and residents of the neighborhood decided they'd had enough and fought back against police, leading to days of protests. In 2016, Stonewall Inn became a national monument.

"Let us never forget the Stonewall riots and those who bravely stood up and said 'enough,'" Madonna said to cheers from the crowd. "Enough brutality, enough violence inflicted on this community, enough stigmatism, enough oppression, enough pain and suffering. For years, violent and humiliating police raids were common occurrence at gay sanctuaries across the country. Discrimination and unjust treatment was beyond comprehension. No gathering place for the LBGT community was truly safe. And our brothers and sisters before us were not free to celebrate like we are tonight. And we must never forget that."

Madonna not only highlighted Stonewall's history, but also her own history with New York City: "You can't imagine how happy I am to return home to New York City, my beautiful city, where dreams are born and forged out of fire and brought to life."

Madonna performed with "Can't Help Falling in Love" and "Like a Prayer" with her son, David Banda, playing guitar, according to Gothamist. She posted a video on Twitter showing her practicing with her son backstage.

First published on January 1, 2019

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