Madonna performed the first of two dates of The Celebration Tour at American Airlines Center on Sunday night. (Courtesy photo by Larry Gase)

In a dazzling whirlwind of sequins, sass and unapologetic liberation, Madonna’s The Celebration Tour rolled into American Airlines Center in Dallas on Sunday for the first of two performances. I must admit, I have in all my years on this earth never had the opportunity to see The Queen of Pop (I know, I’m a bad gay)…but must say, it was worth the wait!  As a member of the LGBTQ community, I not only felt welcomed at the tour, but celebrated in every pulsating beat and provocative lyric.

From the moment Madge took the stage (at 10:30 p.m.), the atmosphere crackled with a noticeable energy coursing through the air as groups of fans united in a collective celebration of love and self-expression. Sunday night felt like more than a concert.  The experience was a proud declaration of queer identity, an unbending statement of defiance against conformity.

Madonna, ever the button pusher, delivered a performance that was equal parts nostalgic and cutting-edge innovation. She played all the hits!  Songs spanning her career were reimagined with fresh arrangements and amazing over-the-top choreography, each song a testimony to the enduring power of her artistry.

The stage became a playground of theatrical extravagance. Her magnetic presence demanded our attention and her voice soaring with raw emotion as she belted out anthems of empowerment and resilience.  I turned to my friend at one point and said, “I feel like I’m watching art, not just a concert.”

Sunday night’s show was a reaffirmation of the enduring bond between Madonna and the LGBTQ community, a bond forged in the fires of fighting for us for so many years and strengthened by a shared commitment to authenticity, freedom and acceptance. For some hometown Pride, it didn’t hurt that Dallas drag royalty Alyssa Edwards joined Madonna onstage for “Vogue.”

As the final notes faded into the night, leaving echoes of empowerment in their wake, it was clear that Madonna’s reign as a gay icon was far from over—it was just getting started.

—Chad Mantooth