In introducing Madonna on Friday at Billboard's Women in Music 2016 event, where she was named Woman of the Year, out journalist Anderson Cooper said that her music had showed him a way forward as a gay teen.

“Madonna is Billboard's Woman of the Year, but as far as I'm concerned in terms of music and impact and culture, she's been the woman of the year every year since she released her first single Everybody in 1982,” Cooper said.

Calling Madonna “revolutionary,” Cooper talked about what her music meant to him “as a gay teenager growing up.”

“Her music and outspokenness showed me as a teenager a way forward. Through her music, she told me and millions of teenagers – gay and straight – that we are not alone, we are connected to each other,” he said.

In accepting the honor, Madonna said that in 1979, when she first moved to New York, it wasn't “safe to be gay.”

“People were dying of AIDS everywhere,” Madonna told the crowd. “It wasn't safe to be gay. It wasn't cool to be associated with the gay community. 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.”