Paula Abdul took the stage Saturday at the GLAAD Gala San Francisco to accept the Ariadne Getty Ally Award.

The star, a longtime LGBTQ advocate, told the crowd, “I truly owe a debt of gratitude for all my friends in the LGBTQ community. You have unabashedly loved and supported me throughout my life and my career, since day one as a choreographer and into my music career.”

She also remembered friends lost to HIV/AIDS. “It was extremely devastating when we lost so many members of our family during the HIV/AIDS crisis,” she said. “I lost so many beautiful colleagues and friends… It was a heart-crushing time. People who’d contributed their creativity and talent were passing away at an alarming rate. I could not sit back and be quiet.”

Paula didn’t stay quiet. In 1992, she took part in an educational film called “Time Out: The Truth About HIV, AIDS, and You.” She went on to host the AIDS Project Los Angeles’ AIDS Dance-A-Thon fundraiser in 1997, and has continued to actively support the community on social media and through events like GLAAD’s Spirit Day and the L.A. Pride Festival.

During her speech, she insisted, “I was—and will always be—passionate about raising funds and awareness to help people learn the facts about HIV and AIDS, and about our fellow human beings in need of help.”

Paula also remembered her late parents, saying, “I’ve experienced the highest of highs this year — including this evening — and on the complete opposite end, I also experienced extreme sorrow in losing both of my parents. But what my parents taught me that matters most is empathy, compassion, gratitude, and acceptance for all — these are the fundamental traits that they instilled in me that have made me the woman I am today.”

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