It's hard to believe that it's been almost three full decades since she first breathlessly strutted her way onto the world stage (and rightfully earned a spot on our eternal playlists) -- but Madonna turns 54 years old today!
Of course, 2012 looks to be yet another banner year for the Queen of Pop. She's currently in the midst of her MDNA World Tour, which is poised to be among the highest-grossing tours of all time for a solo artist, and her spectacular Super Bowl performance was the most-watched halftime show in history.
Certainly, the Material Girl's ability to stir international controversy -- often with just the slip of a bra strap -- also remains without parallel. While it's discouraging to note that recent headlines have been (predictably) filled with sexist and ageist venom, Madonna is often at her best when she's most divisive. Witness her giving the embattled lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community in St. Petersburg a much-needed shout-out or defending jailed Russian punk band Pussy Riot onstage.
"A lot of people who write history books, and humanity in general, have a tendency to diminish women or undermine their accomplishments...or their intelligence," Madonna told HuffPost Gay Voices last winter. "Strong women are held under a microscope and they're judged and measured in a different way. It's just the law of the universe, it seems, right now."
Speaking from experience, Madge? It certainly sounds like it.
Take a look at 10 of Madonna's gayest moments over the years below:
'Open Your Heart,' 1986
A gay couple and a woman in drag are among the many voyeurs watching Madonna in her peep show number in this video (which also saw the debut of her now-iconic conical bustier).
Much has been made of the subtle homoerotic elements seen in Madge's otherwise playful "Cherish" video. Directed by the late photographer Herb Ritts, the video also stars Tony Ward, who would briefly date Madonna the following year, as a hunky merman.
Madonna penned her smash hit in honor of the underground club dance that was then taking the LGBT community by storm. Personally, this Marie Antoinette-inspired performance of the song at the 1990 MTV VMAs is our favorite.
'Justify My Love,' 1990
A healthy dose of LGBT imagery was one of the many reasons "Justify My Love" was deemed too hot for MTV in 1990. Madonna smooches a woman in lingerie, while her then-boyfriend Tony Ward (also seen in her "Cherish" video) cavorts with a number of men in S&M drag.
'Bye Bye Baby,' 1993
Madonna's 1993 Girlie Show Tour was peppered with lots of homoerotic and lesbian imagery. In what was perhaps the show's most overtly gay moment, Madonna donned a Marlene Dietrich-inspired top hat and tails and proceeded to playfully grope and spank one of her cabaret-styled backup girls.
MTV VMAs Drag Queen Tribute, 1999
"It takes a real man to fill my shoes," Madonna quipped at the end of this stunning tribute performance, which saw some amazing drag queens re-creating many of the diva's most iconic looks over the years.
The Britney/Christina Kiss, 2003
In a throwback to her now-legendary 1984 performance of "Like A Virgin," Madonna was joined onstage by Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera, both of whom she rewarded with an open-mouthed kiss, at the 2003 VMAs.
'Forbidden Love,' 2006
Madonna got political -- and gay -- during this moment from her Confessions Tour when two of her barechested male dancers, emblazoned with Jewish and Islamic symbols engaged in a steamy dance using only their arms.
'Girl Gone Wild,' 2012
Madonna got down and dirty with a group of chiseled back-up dancers in the steamy video for her 2012 single. Intercut with scenes of the diva herself gyrating wildly are shots of barechested men in high heels and in scintillating embraces.
Madonna In St. Petersburg, 2012
The Queen of Pop spoke out while in St. Petersburg, which adopted a law this year to curb "homosexual propaganda," as part of her MDNA Tour. Madonna urged her audience -- most wearing pink wrist bands distributed at the door -- to "show your love and appreciation to the gay community," according to Reuters. "We want to fight for the right to be free," she said.