Melissa Etheridge and Adam Lambert kick off the 29th Annual GLAAD Media Awards in New York City

Saturday night at the Hilton Midtown in New York,  Adam Lambert and Melissa Etheridge joined forces for a powerful duet of Etheridge's hit song "I'm The Only One". It has been 25 years since the icon released her record YES I AM, and used her platform to increase visibility for the LGBTQ community by coming out publicly as lesbian. 

Lambert met Etheridge for the first time to rehearse for the performance, which opened the ceremony. Both shared a playful "call and response" style of vocal exchanges, filled with enough riffs and runs to have the audience roaring with excitement. After the show, the pair spoke with Billboard about the importance of performing at the GMAs. 

Melissa Etheridge and Adam Lambert

“We do most of our work in a straight world. The music industry is mainly straight,” Etheridge said. “I’m not afraid of a straight audience, but it’s a freedom to relax [at GLAAD]. It’s family. It’s like home.”  

“At one point in time to be a musician in mainstream music, you had to second guess some things or be careful what you said,” Lambert reflected. “It’s changing so rapidly, which is wonderful, and at an event like this we can be reminded that things are shifting night and day in the music industry, even compared to 10 years ago.”

Melissa Etheridge and Adam Lambert

“Melissa Etheridge is a living legend whose coming out 25 years ago was a powerful inspiration for the entire LGBTQ community, myself included,” said Sarah Kate Ellis, GLAAD President and CEO. “Add in the amazing Adam Lambert to the mix and this is sure to be a one-of-kind performance to remember.”

The night was filled with moments of celebration, reflection, and honoring of LGBTQ voices. Samira Wiley accepted the Vito Russo award, presented by fellow The Handmaid's Tale cast member, Alexis Bledel; Ava DuVernay received the Excellence in Media Award, presented by Sen. Cory Booker; Good Morning America's Robin Roberts presented the Special Recognition Award to the mother of JAY-Z, Gloria Carter.