User:Stephenjamesx/Lady Gaga as LGBT icon

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Lady Gaga, often considered an LGBT icon, at Europride in Rome (2011)

American recording artist Lady Gaga (born March 28, 1986) is revered an LGBT icon by both the LGBT community and critics alike.[1][2][3][4][5][6][7][8][9] Since her prominence in pop music, Gaga has garnered a substantial gay following and attributes much of her initial success to her gay fans. A recognized ally of the LGBT community, Gaga – herself bisexual – continues to be an advocate for the community both personally and through her music, fashion, performance, music videos and demonstrations.

Her debut album The Fame (2008) contains the song "Poker Face" whose lyrics speak about playing with one's bisexuality while her most recent album Born This Way (2011) deals with a legion of modern social issues including LGBT-related themes and comprises the eponymous song "Born This Way" which was hailed a gay anthem. "To say that I would use the gay community to sell records is probably one of the most ridiculous statements anyone can make about me as a person," Gaga has stated. "I would say the top thing I think about every single day of my life, other than my fans, loving the music, and my family being healthy, is social justice and equality."[10]

Embracing same-sex love, Gaga has regularly spoken out against prejudice and discrimination, including that against homosexuality, on a variety of occasions. Opposed to the fantasy of her performance art, she notes that her performance as an LGBT activist is "rooted" and "real."[11] She acknowledges her "tremendous" gay fan base[12] and has stated that "I'm always gonna be the most supportive chick on the planet of the gay community."[1] Responding extremely positively to her loyal and up-lifting LGBT following,[13] Gaga believes that there is "no fucking spirit in the world like in the gay community."[1]

Upon her attraction of her gay fans, she has labelled them "the greatest accomplishment of my life" in addition to believing that "gay culture is at the very essence of who I am" and confessing that "I will fight for women and for the gay community until I die."[14] Gaga has opined, "I feel a moral obligation to defend my fanbase and make the world a better place" yet has acknowledged that "I am just part of the voice" of LGBT rights.[15] In addition, she has professed that her reverence as an LGBT icon is "a really, really tall order and quite a description."[5]

Gaga has accrued the GLAAD Media Award for Outstanding Music Artist twice in addition to wining the Trevor Hero Award in 2011[16] and being nominated for the Stonewall Award for Hero of the Year the same year.[17] She was also named the most powerful LGBT person on Twitter in 2012.

Life and career as LGBT icon[edit]

Introduction to LGBT community[edit]

As a youngster, Gaga began playing piano and composing under the tutorship of several gay mentors: "I had a few gay piano teachers. I was in acting class and ballet from a very young age, and I remember being around a lot of gay boys in dance class."[18] She had lots of gay friends growing up, without realizing that they were gay. "I went to theater school and I did a lot of shows, so I guess it never really mattered to me if they were gay or straight — and we never really talked about it. We just loved talking about music and art and theater and fashion," Gaga stated.[5] "I had a lot of gay friends, growing up, and I went to a lot of gay clubs."[19] The fight for equality "is part of who I am and part of my childhood, and part of where I'm going."[5] Because of this upbringing, she has stated, "I feel intrinsically inclined toward a more gay lifestyle."[18]

Although herself bisexual,[10][20] she commented that "I myself am not a gay woman -- I am a free-spirited woman: I have had boyfriends, and I have hooked up with women, but it's never been like 'I discovered gayness when I was dot dot dot.'" Gaga declared, "When I started in the mainstream it was the gays that lifted me up" and explained, "I committed myself to them and they committed themselves to me, and because of the gay community I'm where I am today."[18] She has declared numerous times that, like many of her "little monsters," she was bullied. As a young girl in Manhattan, in one instance, Gaga was tossed into a trash can by classmates. Her connection to her fans goes to the point of identification: she says she is "one of them."[10]

My love for my gay fans is just pure, authentic love for them as supporters of me from the beginning, and me feeling connected to their struggles as someone who is a part of their fight.

—Lady Gaga, in an interview with The Advocate[10]

Career beginnings, intersex rumors and increased popularity with LGBT community[edit]

Gaga attributes much of her early success as a mainstream artist to her gay fans. Early in her career she had difficulty getting radio airplay, and stated, "The turning point for me was the gay community. They'll always stand by me and I'll always stand by them. It's not an easy thing to create a fanbase."[21] In the liner notes of her debut album The Fame (2008), she thanked FlyLife, a Manhattan-based LGBT marketing company with whom her label Interscope works, saying, "I love you so much. You were the first heartbeat in this project, and your support and brilliance means the world to me. I will always fight for the gay community hand in hand with this incredible team."[22] After The Fame was released, she revealed that the song "Poker Face" is about her bisexuality. In an interview with Rolling Stone, she spoke about how her boyfriends tended to react to her bisexuality, saying "The fact that I'm into women, they're all intimidated by it. It makes them uncomfortable. They're like, 'I don't need to have a threesome. I'm happy with just you'."[23] She later regretted the comments she made of her sexuality, saying, "I don't like to be seen as somebody who is using the gay community to look edgy. I'm a free sexual woman and I like what I like. I don't want people to write that about me because I feel like it looks like I'm saying it because I'm trying to be edgy or underground."[1]

Lady Gaga performing at Bazaar, a gay club in Altanta, Georgia, in the early days of her career (2008)

One of her first televised performances was in May 2008 at the NewNowNext Awards, an awards show aired by the LGBT television network Logo, where she sang her debut single "Just Dance".[24] In June of the same year, she performed the song again at the San Francisco Pride event.[25] Gaga said that being invited to play at the event "was a real turning point for me as an artist."[21] "I never really decided to be this kind of an artist," said Gaga about her close relationship with the LGBT community. "It's just who I became and I think it was jut a result of my lifestyle. You're a product of your environment and, without even realising it, the music and the show began to speak to that community. And they've been so open and welcoming and I love them back."[19] Gaga always looked forward to playing her shows in gay clubs because she found the audiences so welcoming. "I think that's because they know [my show] came out of that community and was inspired bu that community. It's very much a part of who I am ... The theatre, the drama, the drag show, just became a love of mine."[19] On why she thought her show appealed so much to LGBT audiences, she commented, "They get it a little more. Sometimes in straight clubs, the girls give you the 'Who the hell are you in your panties?' look. The minute I'm in these clubs, for whatever reason, the gay community sees the concepts. They see the references. I can see them pointing out, 'Oh, that's the Madonna shoulder pad!' I just love it."[19]

Towards the end of 2008, comparisons were made between the fashions of Gaga and fellow recording artist Christina Aguilera that noted similarities in their styling, hair, and make-up.[26] Aguilera stated that she was "completely unaware of [Gaga]" and "didn't know if it [was] a man or a woman."[26] Gaga released a statement in which she welcomed the comparisons due to the attention providing useful publicity, saying, "She's such a huge star and if anything I should send her flowers, because a lot of people in America didn't know who I was until that whole thing happened. It really put me on the map in a way."[27][28] Aguilera's statement sparked subsequent rumors that Gaga is intersex. She dismissed the claim as an urban legend in an interview with Barbara Walters for her annual ABC News special 10 Most Fascinating People in 2009, and stated, "At first it was very strange and everyone sorta said, 'That's really quite a story!' But in a sense, I portray myself in a very androgynous way, and I love androgyny,"[29] However, she later admitted in a French television interview that she was "fascinated" by "the rumor that I have a penis," adding that it strengthened her love "even more" for her fans "because 17,000 of them come to an arena every night and they don't care if I'm a man, a woman, a hermaphrodite, gay, straight, transgendered, or transsexual."[14]

When she appeared as a guest on The Ellen DeGeneres Show in May 2009, she praised DeGeneres for being "an inspiration for women and for the gay community."[30] Months later came the release of her second album The Fame Monster (2009) which won Gaga her first GLAAD Media Award, an awards ceremony that "recognize[s] and honor[s] media for their fair, accurate and inclusive representations of the LGBT community and the issues that affect their lives,"[31] for Outstanding Music Artist at their 21st annual awards ceremony.[32][33] The album produced the hit single "Telephone" which paired Gaga with fellow recording artist Beyoncé Knowles. Its accompanying music video, described as "a landmark showcase of sexuality," caused controversy for its lesbian overtones[34] and inclusion of other "groundbreaking" themes.[35][36] The video, described as a "lesbian prison porn,"[37] contains a scene where Gaga is stripped of her clothes by two transsexual prison guards while one says to the other, "I told you she didn't have a dick," and another where she shares a kiss with a female prison inmate.[38] Gaga stood her ground and stated that because "there are transsexual women and transgender women [in the video]," it suddenly became "poisonous" for "some people in this world that believe being gay is a choice. It's not a choice, we're born this way."[39] Her following single "Alejandro" paired Gaga with fashion photographer Steven Klein for a music video similarly as controversial. Described as "a military fetish film,"[40] Gaga explained that the video is "a celebration of my love and appreciation for the gay community, my admiration of their bravery, their love for one another and their courage in their relationships. In the video I'm pining for the love of my gay friends – but they just don't want me to be with them."[41] Proving successful after her garnering of 13 nominations at the 2010 MTV Video Music Awards, an awards ceremony established to honor the top music videos of the year, she commented, "God put me on Earth for three reasons: to make loud music, gay videos and cause a damn raucous."[42]

Personal stances against LGBT opposition[edit]

Gaga confronted a homophobic man in late 2009 after attending a club in Ottawa with fellow recording artist Adam Lambert when the man called Lambert "a derogatory word" and accused Gaga of being a man. The singer fired back: "Well, that's your opinion, isn't it? And I'm not about to waste my time trying to change it." He continued his protests, calling the pair "freaks," to which Gaga replied: "Okay, that's it. Call me anything you want, but when you start calling my friends names, it's over – it's war!" She reportedly then poured a drink over his head and made a swift exit.[43]

The Monster Ball Tour, Gaga's second worldwide and first headlining concert tour, was made exclusively for her fans. In a retrospective interview with Billboard in 2011, Gaga elaborated that her tour was about the "beautiful idea of all of the fans getting together and rejoicing in their identities."[44] In the development stages of the tour, when Gaga was to play with Kanye West (West left for unspecified reasons), she explained: "I just want to be clear before we decide to do this together: I'm gay. My music is gay. My show is gay. And I love that it's gay. And I love my gay fans and they're all going to be coming to our show. And it's going to remain gay."[45] She added, "I very much want to inject gay culture into the mainstream," and concluded, "It's not an underground tool for me. It's my whole life. So I always sort of joke the real motivation is to just turn the world gay."[18] When the tour materialized and commenced, critical and commercial reception was extremely positive. It was later turned into a television special titled Lady Gaga Presents the Monster Ball Tour: At Madison Square Garden which tied with television series Glee for TV Musical Program of the Year at the 2012 Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association's Dorian Awards.[46] A Canadian critic, Mike Ross, stated that "You don't have to be gay to love Lady Gaga - but it helps." Ross, who mentioned the show's pro-gay theme that resurfaced several times, described the audience as a "gay pandemonium."[47]

Lady Gaga flying the rainbow flag at a Monster Ball concert in Vancouver (2010)

However, Gaga's pro-gayness provoked a Christian fundamentalist protester who, in a YouTube video diary update of Gaga's, handed her a "Get Out of Hell Free" card. After her car pulled up to the lonely protestor, Gaga offered a friendly, "Hi, I'm Lady Gaga," to which the man ignorantly replied, "So?" Gaga continued, "We really believe in God at my show" yet he quickly countered, "Your pervert ways don't quite equate to what God is all about, darlin'." When asked to clarify what he meant by "pervert," he declared: "the homo stuff." In response, Gaga questioned him about his "hurtful" choice of words. At first, she appeared unruffled by the encounter and joked: "What I'm trying to understand is, there's 3000 people standing in my line, and nobody standing in your line. Who's goin' to hell?" Later, however, she admitted that it makes her "sad that my fans have to see that, but I know that it's just part of what I'm supposed to do."[48][49] More protests came from from the people of Westboro Baptist Church, an independent Baptist church who, known for their extreme stance against homosexuality, frequently have appeared outside many of her shows.[50] At one of their protests outside a concert in St. Louis, Gaga opined on Twitter:

At the risk of drawing attention to a hateful organization, I would like to make my little monster fans aware of a protest being held outside the Monsterball in St.Louis tonight. Although we have had protesters before, as well as fundamentalists at the show, this group of protesters are hate criminals and preach using lewd and violent language and imagery that I wish I protect you all from. Their message is of hatred and divisiveness, but inside at the Monsterball we preach love and unity.

My request to all little monsters and public authorites is to pay these hate criminals no mind. Do not interact with them, or try to fight, Do not respond to any of their provocation. Don't waste your words, or feelings, no matter what you hear or see you are more fortunate and blessed than they are, and in your heart just pray for them. Although I respect and do not judge anyone for their personal views on any politics or religion, this group in particular to me, is violent and dangerous I wanted to make my fans aware of my views on how to approach, or rather not approach, these kinds of hate activists.

Be inspired to ignore their ignorant message, and feel gratitude in your heart that you are not burdened or addicted to hate, as they are. X[50]

A 15-year-old Tennessee high school student was sent home from Greenbrier High School when he drew the attention of his school's administrators in April 2010 after wearing a T-shirt which sported the phrase "I Heart Lady Gay Gay"; paying homage to Gaga and her large gay following. The student, Cole Goforth, was asked to change the shirt in fear that "the shirt would cause a disruption among other students with its supposedly inflammatory statement." In response, Gaga opined on Twitter: "Thank [you] for wearing your tee-shirt proud at school, you make me so proud ... you are an inspiration to us all. I love you." She also tweeted, "Been in the studio for days and hours of record after record, and when I hear that a little monster was discriminated against by teachers…It reminds me of my commitment [and] love for [you], and the deep unconditional devotion I feel to write music that will deliberate you from prejudice." She later added: "I love you Cole, you just be yourself. You're perfect the way God made you."[51][52]

Born This Way and continued recognition of LGBT community[edit]

Gaga's most recent studio album Born This Way (2011) was inspired by a variety of modern social topics including themes of freedom, attitude, religion and sexuality. Conclusively, Gaga has stated that social justice is "the most paramount issue" addressed on the album[5] while Fernando Garibay, musical director of the album, explained that its bilingual song "Americano" deals with "human hardship" in overcoming protests against gay rights and Mexican independence.[53] Born This Way later accrued Gaga her second GLAAD Media Award for Outstanding Music Artist at their 23rd annual awards ceremony. The album's eponymous lead single "Born This Way", described as a "pulsating dance track with a message meant to empower the lonely, the disaffected, the discriminated against," was praised by critics for its blase nature, for effectively asserting that LGBT people are "born this way" (stirring controversy on the debate of biology and sexual orientation), and was hailed a gay anthem.[10][54][55][56]

"I'm beautiful in my way / 'Cause God makes no mistakes"
"Don't be a drag, just be a queen"
"Whether life's disabilities left you outcast, bullied or teased / Rejoice and love yourself today / 'Cause baby, you were born this way."
"No matter gay, straight, or bi, / Lesbian, transgendered life / I'm on the right track, baby / I was born to survive"

—Lines from the LGBT-related song "Born This Way"[57]

While "cementing [Gaga] as a gay icon," a critic of Contactmusic declared,[58] musician Elton John predicted it would "obliterate" former gay anthem "I Will Survive" and named it "the gayest song" he had ever heard.[59] The song's lyrics include: The song immediately shot to the top of the charts around the world, where it remained for six weeks in the US, making it the first number 1 with a shout-out to transgender people.[10][60] She later elaborated on the employment of the word "gay" in the song: "I think it's so interesting to see the way people latch on to words. You say the word gay in a song and suddenly all the other words float away and the focus goes in just on one word. I'm happy that everyone focused on that word, though. It's an important word to liberate."[61] Gaga later unveiled a guitar-searing, harmonica-infused, countrified version of the song and made a portion of its profits go to the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) which "strives to assure that each member of every school community is valued and respected regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity/expression."[62][63]

Lady Gaga performing in a gay club in 2011

However, "Born This Way" was maligned by some for the line "Don't be a drag / Just be a queen," which some said alienated gay people who don't do drag or consider themselves queens.[10][64] In addition to such contention, it was the line that included the word "gay" that caused controversial in Malaysia, where homosexuality is illegal. The line was rendered offensive and censored on the country's radios stations.[65] When Gaga responded, she stated, "What I would say is for all the young people in Malaysia that want those words to be played on the radio, it is your job and it is your duty as young people to have your voices heard," and added: "You must do everything that you can if you want to be liberated by your society. You must call, you must not stop, you must protest peaceably."[66] Furthermore, Gaga had planned a marketing deal for the album with Target but, two months prior its release, ended it after discovering that the retailing company gave a $150,000 corporate donation to Minnesota Forward, a group that supported Republican Tom Emmer, who opposes same-sex marriage. She explained: "Part of my deal with Target is that they have to start affiliating themselves with LGTB charity groups, and begin to reform and make amends for the mistakes they've made in the past."[67]

In July 2011, Gaga was made an honorary citizen of Sydney for her support of the LGBT community. "Lady Gaga has been a powerful force for the gay and lesbian community in Sydney and we have a rare honour for people whose achievements embrace the ideals and spirit of our city," said Lord Mayor Clover Moore in a statement.[68] "There are many young gay and lesbian people in Sydney, more than anywhere else in Australia, and unfortunately many are made to feel like second-rate citizens because there is still so much inequality," she continued, praising Gaga for using her "star power" to support the LGBT community. "One woman has helped turn the tide in the United States - from playing small bars in New York to huge arenas around the world," she declared. "And I would like to pay tribute to her for using her star power to focus the world's attention on the prejudice still directed at gay men and women."[69] Gaga later posted a message on Twitter, "Thank you to the Mayor of Sydney, steadfast [LGBT] activist, for making me an honorary Aussie Citizen," alongside a picture of herself and her special certificate.[70]

Near the end of an appearance on The Howard Stern Show, Gaga was greeted by Michael Morales, an openly gay male, who thanked Gaga for her support of LGBT rights and reduced her to tears. "I just wanted to say that this is more than about your music. You have changed so many millions of youths, gays lives," he said. "When I hear your song I think about the people who have been kicked out of their homes, who have thought about slitting their wrists. You've saved lives, whether you know it or not. You're changing the world." An emotional Gaga responded, "Thanks." The boy continued, "I came out both because my mother told me she would disown me if I was gay and a little bit of bullying, both outside in the world and even with one of the staff members here, but you are a hero, a musical icon, a legend. And the fact that you're here with Howard today is changing my life." "Wow," a tearful Gaga said. "Well, you just changed mine, too."[71] When asked if she wanted children in another interview on Jimmy Kimmel Live!, she responded, "Someday, a long, long day from now" and then, after another question, joked that she would not love her child if it was not gay.[72] She is, however, the godmother of Zachary Jackson Levon Furnish-John, the child of civil partners Elton John and David Furnish.[73]

Lady Gaga in drag as her male alter ego Jo Calderone at the 2011 MTV Video Music Awards

At the 2011 MTV Video Music Awards, Gaga performed in drag as her "chain-smoking, always-cursing, heartbroken" male alter ego Jo Calderone.[74] She opened the awards ceremony with a lovesick monologue followed by her song "Yoü and I" and spent the rest of the night wearing Calderone's black suit and signature sneer. Gaga admitted that her intention of the performance was "to manipulate the visualization of gender in as many ways as I possibly could. And in a completely different way, sort of do that by creating what seems to be a straight man -- a straight and quite relatable American man. I wanted to see how I could take someone who is so approachable and so relatable and press a much more unrelatable issue that is so hidden or so chained up. [I wanted to see] how I could put someone who is challenging all of those things in a very pop culture moment and force people to deal with it no matter how uncomfortable or exciting it may be.[60] The overall response was positive from both the public in general and the LGBT community. Murray Hill, New York City entertainer and drag king, stated that "for Lady Gaga, the biggest pop star in the world, to go on TV with millions of people watching in drag as a man and then to actually say 'lesbian and transgender' live is undeniably powerful and creates change. She ups the visibility big time and gets the language into the mainstream."[75] Editor of Logo's pop culture blog NewNowNext.com John Polly stated, "Gender issues are often the most challenging for people, so I liked that she dove into it and stuck with it throughout the show."[76]

Jamey Rodemeyer, who was openly gay, committed suicide at just 14 years of age after suffering years of bullying from homophobic children at school. Prior to his death, Rodemeyer posted a final update on Twitter, directed towards Lady Gaga, reading "bye mother monster, thank you for all you have done, paws up forever." Upon learning of his death, Gaga stated that she had spent days "reflecting, crying, and yelling," calling for a "law for Jamey" to ban such bullying: "I have so much anger. It is hard to feel love when cruelty takes someones life … Bullying must become be illegal. It is a hate crime." Gaga added, "I am meeting with our president [Barack Obama]. I will not stop fighting. This must end. Our generation has the power to end it."[77] When Gaga did meet Obama, he called her the LGBT "leader" and joked that at "8 feet tall," thanks to her 16-inch heels, she "was a little intimidating."[78]

She later dedicated a heartfelt version of her song "Hair" to Rodemeyer during a show in Vegas after stating, "I wrote this record about how your identity is really all you've got when you're in school...so tonight, Jamey, I know you're up there looking at us and you're not a victim. You're a lesson to all of us. I know it's a bit of a downer, but sometimes the right thing is more important than the music."[79] When she accepted the Hero Award from The Trevor Project in December 2011, Gaga commented, "I learned very long ago that my time here on this Earth would not just be for pop singing because I was very blessed to have beautiful fans, like I have in Jamey, like I will always have in Jamey. Thank you so much this award tonight. This means more to me than any Grammy I could ever win."[80]

On the LGBT-friendly animated television series The Simpsons, Gaga made a special appearance in the episode "Lisa Goes Gaga". The Gaga-based episode saw Gaga help main character Lisa Simpson through a stage of depression. When Lisa's mother, Marge Simpson, bewails her inability to help her depressed daugter, the cartoon version of Lady Gaga says, hesitantly, "Maybe this will help," and shares a passionate kiss with Marge. The implication is that Marge feels excited by the kiss.

Gaga's controversial tour, the Born This Way Ball, provoked protests from conservative Muslim and Christian groups in South Korea, the Philippines and Indonesia, who were worried that the singer's provocative outfits and seemingly anti-religious lyrics would "encourage lewd behaviour and promote homosexuality." On the second night of her show in the Philippines, Lady Gaga addressed the controversy directly before a slow-tempo version of "Hair". While playing the piano she stated that she is aware of the issues around her image and music, she emphasized that she respects all kinds of religion, people and culture – including Filipino culture.[81] She also said that she respects that everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but stressed "What I don't respect is homophobia and hatred…I reject intolerance to the gay community," which drew cheers from the audience.[81]

  • channeled RuPaul[82]
  • "turning kids gay"[83]
  • track based on anti-gay protests[84]

LGBT social movements[edit]

Lady Gaga delivering a speech at the National Equality March (2009)

In October 2009, Gaga attended the thirteenth anuual Human Rights Campaign dinner to perform a cover of John Lennon's "Imagine" and "represent those young people who are taking a stand, who are going tomorrow to march with all of us," referring to the following day's National Equality March. She declared, "You are inspiring a tremendous number of young people, and I know that tomorrow is going to be just as memorable as tonight was. And I promise to continue and to love and be loyal, to stand up for and to continue to challenge the world, for all of you. I'm not going to play one of my songs tonight because tonight is not about me, tonight is about you."[85] She changed the original lyrics and melodies of the song to reflect the death of Matthew Shepard, a college student murdered because of his sexuality.[86] "Imagine there's no heaven / It's easy if you try," Gaga sang, "No hell below us / And only Matthew in the sky." Later she sang, "People of the nation, are you listening? / It isn't equal if it's sometimes / I want a real democracy."[87]

The following day, she took part in the National Equality March rally on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., proclaiming that it was "the single most important event of her career." In her speech, Gaga addressed US president Barack Obama directly. "Obama, we know you're listening." She took a breath before continuing in a powerful scream. "ARE YOU LISTENING?" She told Obama that "[w]e will continue to push you and your administration to bring your words of promise to a reality. We need change now. We demand actions now." She also declared her commitment to combat misogyny and homophobia in the music industry.[88] As she exited, she left with an exultant "Bless God and bless the gays," similar to her 2009 MTV Video Music Awards acceptance speech for Best New Artist a month earlier.[85] Her attendance at the rally provoked Dan Zak of The Washington Post to describe her as "a champ" for gay activists claiming that at that event, she "accept[ed] her crown as the gay community's reigning pop culture icon."[8]

Gaga attended the 2010 MTV Video Music Awards accompanied by four service members of the United States Armed Forces: Mike Almy; David Hall; Katie Miller and Stacy Vasquez. All of whom, under the US military's "Don't ask, don't tell" (DADT) policy, had been prohibited from serving openly because of their sexuality.[89] In addition, Gaga wore a dress fabricated from the flesh of a dead animal to the awards ceremony.[90] Gaga wished that the dress, more widely known as the meat dress, was interpreted as a statement of human rights with focus upon those in the LGBT community. She concluded: "If we don't stand up for what we believe in and if we don't fight for our rights, pretty soon we're going to have as much rights as the meat on our own bones."[91]

Equality is the prime rib of America, but because I'm gay I don't get to enjoy the greatest cut of meat my country has to offer.

—Lady Gaga, at the Maine rally repealing the "Don't ask, don't tell" (DADT) policy[92]
Lady Gaga addresses the crowd at SLDN's "Don't ask, don't tell" rally (2010)

She later released three YouTube videos urging her fans to contact their Senators in an effort to overturn the DADT policy. On September 20, 2010, she spoke at the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN)'s "4the14K" Rally in Deering Oaks Park in Portland, Maine. The name of the rally signified the number – an estimated 14,000 – of service members discharged under the policy at the time. During her remarks, she urged members of the US Senate (and in particular, moderate Republican Senators from Maine, Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins) to vote in favor of legislation that would repeal the policy. Following this event, editors of The Advocate commented that she had become "the real fierce advocate" for gays and lesbians,[93] one that Barack Obama had promised to be.[94] Gaga later added in an Indian interview: "I spoke specifically about equality being the prime rib of the American cut of meat. And that all Americans don't get to enjoy the finest cut of meat the country has to offer. That is removed of sexual orientation. It's just rights."[12] Her work for SLDN and LGBT veterans provoked the organization to present her with the Randy Shilts Visibility Award at their 19th annual dinner in 2011.[95]

In a later interview, she spoke about a gay serviceman who she had met at an album signing for Born This Way (2011). "He was afraid that he would be discharged and that he would be judged or found out. [He said] that the fight in America against 'don’t ask, don't tell' and the fight for equality made him feel stronger and made him feel safe, and he gave me his service jacket," she explained. "And we just held each other and cried. Anyone who says that I'm not genuine is not interested in overcoming this fight. That was such a pure and wonderful moment that we shared, and I remember thinking, There's no album sale,number 1, that could compete with this moment. That is what the fuck it's all about. What the fuck it's all about is if I can write one song that could change one person's life."[10] When DADT was eventually repealed on September 20, 2011, Gaga called the moment "tremendous" and "beautiful."[96] In celebration, service members played her song "The Edge of Glory", to which, Gaga responded, "That makes me tear up and get really choked up. I have cared so much about this issue for the longest time and I'm just happy to be a part of working with all these amazing human rights organizations that have been lobbying for this change for so long. [It feels good] just to know that they feel vindication today and feel that society is moving forward. I hope that all the fans who read this and who support social change know that you really can make a difference. It just takes conviction and passion."[60]

Lady Gaga delivering her speech at the 2011 Europride in Rome

Gaga also appeared at Europride, a pan-European international event dedicated to LGBT pride, held in Rome in June 2011. In a nearly twenty-minute speech,[97] she criticised the intolerant state of gay rights in many European countries and described homosexuals as "revolutionaries of love"[98] before performing acoustic renderings of "Born This Way" and "The Edge of Glory" in front of thousands at the Circus Maximus. She stated that "Today and every day we fight for freedom. We fight for justice. We beckon for compassion, understanding and above all we want full equality now."[99] Gaga revealed that she is often questioned why she dedicates herself to "gayspeak" and "how gay" she is, to which, she told the audience: "Why is this question, why is this issue so important? My answer is: I am a child of diversity, I am one with my generation, I feel a moral obligation as a woman, or a man, to exercise my revolutionary potential and make the world a better place." She then joked: "On a gay scale from 1 to 10, I'm a Judy Garland fucking 42."[100]

We're all from the same DNA. We were just born this way. I stand here as a woman of the world and I ask governments, with you, worldwide to facilitate our dream of equality.

—Lady Gaga, at the 2011 Europride in Rome[98]

Days before same-sex marriage was legalized in the U.S. state of New York by the New York State Legislature and Governor Andrew Cuomo, Gaga made numerous personal pleas demanding her fans to support such legalization. At the time, 31 senators favored of the proposal – just one vote shy of the 32 needed for passage – while 3 remained "undecided." "I am so proud to be a New Yorker!," Gaga wrote on Twitter. "One step closer to equality and toward the legalization of Gay Marriage in America. Full Equality. Unity." She then tweeted ways in which her "little monsters [could] get involved to mobilize social justice. NY State needs us, and the time for change is now." In two tweets, she urged fans to go through the Human Rights Campaign to contact fence-sitting senators.[101] On June 24, 2011, same-sex marriage was legalized in New York, Gaga's hometown. On Twitter, she admitted, "I can't stop crying. We did it kids," posting a picture of herself in celebration. "Rejoice New York, and propose. We did it!" she later added in a further tweet. "The revolution is ours to fight for love, justice [and] equality."[102] In addition, when two grandmothers, Kitty Lambert and Cheryle Rudd, became the first legally married gay couple in the New York State, they sealed the deal by dancing to Gaga's "The Edge of Glory".[103]

However, while legal in New York, same-sex marriage is not recognised in many territories worldwide. Gaga opined, "I feel the denial of gay marriage sends a prejudice message. Our youth deserve a fair [and] hopeful future with government that values us equally."[104] When Gaga appeared on an Australian talk show, she commented on the country's current recognition of same-sex marriage. While the Prime Minister of Australia Julia Gillard refuses to support same-sex marriage, stating that it goes against her traditional beliefs,[105] Gaga, who called for viewers to lobby the Prime Minister, said, "It's 2011, get on with it. I am so against the way certain laws and restrictions send messages that one person is better than another. I urge all of you to mobilise your voices so the Prime Minister can hear you scream that you want to be equal." However, Gillard responded the next morning, remaining unchanged in opinion. "But I understand people have got different views. Lady Gaga and Julia Gillard - different views," Gillard declared.[106]

Involvement with LGBT-related charities[edit]

In January 2010, Gaga hosted a benefit gala for same-sex marriage, Hands Up for Marriage Equality, in Atlantic City; raising money for four organisations fighting for equal marriage rights: Empire State Pride Agenda, Equality Pennsylvania, Garden State Equality and The Power. In a statement, she declared: "I am honoured to be able to continue to raise awareness and money for this cause and these outstanding organisations. Organisations like these are in the trenches every day working on behalf of all of us whether you are LGBT or straight. Equal and full civil rights are supposed to be for all of us."[107]

Lady Gaga has worked with fellow icon Cyndi Lauper alongside MAC Cosmetics in the fight against HIV and AIDS

Gaga contributes in the fight against HIV and AIDS. Although the disease is stereotypically perceived as a "gay disease," Gaga explained, "This is a disease that affects everyone, not just the gay community, and right now it's mostly affecting women."[108] In collaboration with Cyndi Lauper, Gaga joined forces with cosmetic manufacturer MAC Cosmetics to launch a line of lipstick under their supplementary cosmetic line, Viva Glam. Titled Viva Glam Gaga and Viva Glam Cyndi for each contributor respectively, all net proceeds of the lipstick line were donated to the cosmetic company's campaign to prevent HIV and AIDS worldwide.[108] In a press release, Gaga declared, "I don't want Viva Glam to be just a lipstick you buy to help a cause. I want it to be a reminder when you go out at night to put a condom in your purse right next to your lipstick."[109] Although exclusively focusing upon women, Gaga has expressed she aims to lower the risk of disease in everybody. "Something I do want to celebrate with my fans is that it's OK to be whomever it is that you want to be. You don’t have to have sex to feel good about yourself, and if you’re not ready, don't do it. And if you are ready," she adds, "there are free condoms given away at my concerts when you're leaving!"[108] Dressed in a nude-colored latex ensemble, Gaga revealed on Good Morning America that "today was a latex condom inspired outfit because we had to talk about safe sex." The outfit related directly to her work as a spokesperson for MAC's Viva Glam campaign. "I know my fans very well and they think it's cool to be aware about sex, aware about the world and aware about things like HIV and AIDS and protecting themselves," she explained.[110] The sales of Gaga-endorsed Viva Glam lipstick and lipgloss have raised more than $202 million to fight HIV and AIDS.[111]

The Monster Ball Tour was sponsored by Virgin Mobile, who came up with an idea to benefit a cause close to her heart. They partnered with homeless youth shelters and programmes with strong LGBT outreach to attract volunteers willing to give eight hours of their time in exchange for concert tickets. "One in five of the homeless youth population in the U.S. are LGBT," Virgin Mobile USA Cause Manager Felicia Hill told The Advocate. "And that was key to Lady Gaga picking these organizations — they have to feature LGBT friendly programs and focus on LGBT youth."[112] Money went to 25 cities nationwide in the United States including The L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center, a 24-bed program specifically for homeless LGBT youth, where they may live for up to 18 months while receiving free medical care, meals, counseling, career and education assistance. The Center also operates an LGBT youth center, open 7 days a week, that provides meals, clothing, counseling, a GED preparation program and support to help youth get off the street – with 6 emergency beds for those who aren't ready to commit to a longer-term program.[112] "If it wasn’t benefiting LGBT youth, I don’t know if we'd have been quite as eager to do this," 18-year-old David, one of the volunteers painting the Covenant House, told The Advocate. "But it's important to us — and you get Lady Gaga tickets." Another volunteer stated that gay fans are so devoted to Gaga because she's a rare artist who speaks out for gay rights and really goes the distance. "A lot of artists won't go full-force," he said. "But she's not afraid to throw it all out on the table."[112]

Additionally, Gaga teamed up with American the charity, Robin Hood Foundation, which attempts to alleviate problems caused by poverty in New York. She, with the charity, sponsored a contest that gave $1 million away to five charities that benefit the disconnected youth of New York.[113] The Non Profit Times explained: "Disconnected youth is a term that refers to young people between the ages of 16 and 24 who are not in school or employed in the legitimate workforce. They might have had experience with the criminal justice system or have been in foster care. They aren't getting the education, work, civic, and family support they need to be successful adults. A significant portion of these young adults are part of the LGBQT community."[114] The winning charity was announced on May 9 during Gaga's performance at Robin Hood's annual benefit. The winning charity received a $500,000 grant while the remaining four received smaller portions. Of the entire collaboration, Gaga stated, "I'm thrilled to be working with the Robin Hood Foundation to distribute funds to help the youth of New York City. NYC is my hometown and I think investing in these kids' future will go a long way."[115]

Her own non-profit organization, the Born This Way Foundation, was founded in 2011 and formally launched in 2012. The organization, created by Gaga and her mother Cynthia Germanotta "challenge[s] meanness and cruelty by inspiring young people to create a support system in their respective communities." It focuses on youth empowerment and issues like self-confidence, well-being, anti-bullying, mentoring, and career development. "My mother and I have initiated a passion project. We call it the Born This Way Foundation," Gaga said in a statement about the foundation, which takes its name from the eponymous 2011 single and album. "Together we hope to establish a standard of Bravery and Kindness, as well as a community worldwide that protects and nurtures others in the face of bullying and abandonment." The foundation works with a number of partners, including the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, The California Endowment and the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University.[116]

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See also[edit]

External links[edit]

Speeches

Performances

Related charities/campaigns