The Politics of Lady Gaga
On Tuesday, August 1st, I traveled to Vancouver, Canada to see one of my favorite artists open her new world tour. By luck I was offered a free General Admission floor ticket, so I didn’t have to think about if it was worth the cost. It was a great show, and I got some really nice photos, which I’m sharing on my social media.
Because this artist happens to be Lady Gaga, and because this tour marks her first since the 2016 election in which she shilled for Crooked Hillary, I do need to say a few things about how I really feel about Gaga, because it’s important.
Unfortunately, Lady Gaga was one of a long list of American entertainment industry elites that inserted herself into the 2016 election in support of Hillary Clinton’s corrupt billion-dollar failure of a campaign.
Those who, like me, followed an untold number of rabbit holes exposed in Clinton campaign manager John Podesta’s emails may have worriedly searched the emails for Gaga’s name in Wikileaks’ database like me too. Fortunately, there’s nothing horribly incriminating other than her support for Hillary in general, which we of course already knew of.
Gaga does, however, have a problematic link to performance artist and “Spirit Cooking” kook Marina Abramovic, who has further questionable ties to the wickedly corrupt Podesta. Since Wikileaks released Podesta’s emails, a number of alarming references have raised suspicion that Clinton’s associates may be connected to human trafficking operations. It’s an uncomfortable but very serious topic, and like the deaths of Seth Rich, Bheranton Whisenant Jr., and Joseph Rago, it requires a thorough and transparent investigation by the relevant authorities. The public cannot rest assured without knowing human trafficking is being policed as the crime that it is; there should be no hesitation to speak out for accountability particularly when children are in danger.
As an independent writer and activist, it is not my job to investigate civil or criminal misconduct. The audience I have understands my approach to addressing the darkest matters is always to seek the light: That is, to speak out as a voter and resident who examines the accountability of our authorities and in calls for transparent investigations of questionable or illegal conduct where needed. Until a transparent investigation has been conducted by the appropriate authorities regarding the red flags in Podesta’s emails, we should demand one. Anyone on the fringe of this or any related scandal — Gaga included — should show leadership in owning up to any past wrongdoing for the sake of our kids, the sake of our future, and goodness’s sake, too.
Regardless, we should cut Gaga some slack. Those who see beyond her namesake antics understand the magnitude of her unique and undeniable contributions to advance the political and social equality of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender communities. While Gaga has often made loud and principled political statements, she’s also made loud and unprincipled ones too; the purpose of this essay is to look at the forest, not the trees.
Those who know Zach Haller pre-2016 know I have a long and lavish history with the lady. While living in Chicago in 2009, I like many went googoo for Gaga as she pounded out more chart-topping singles on a debut album than basically anyone ever. It was immediately clear from The Fame that Stefani Joanne Germonotta was a dedicated, focused, intelligent, multitalented artist. Beyond all this, she was brilliantly creative and prolific; I would tell my friends Gaga has such a creative mind, she can’t do anything the same way twice. Incidentally, this led me to use the word “snowflake” to describe her art of making the same thing a little different every time she performed. It’s a level of creative genius and sheer talent unlike any other I’ve seen in my lifetime.
Gaga’s rise to international stardom came following the birth of Barack Obama’s era of “hope and change”. While Obama’s affiliation with Clinton was the only omen we needed to know Obama was a false idol, the massive and diverse coalition of grassroots activists across ages, races, genders, and sexual orientations was real and inspiring in its own way.
As Obama’s administration started to undo some of the institutionalized homophobia we have the Clintons to thank for, Gaga’s music and discography quickly became the soundtrack for the LGBT equality movement as Obama made progress where he did.
Those following Gaga’s rise knew how instrumental the gay community was in elevating her platform, and Gaga was vocal and consistent in openly stating her support for the LGBT community at a time and on a platform that was bigger than any before. Gaga’s resolve as to her own sexuality was first and most brilliantly introduced in the under-appreciated masterpiece So Happy I Could Die from The Fame Monster:
I love that lavender blonde
The way she moves, the way she walks
I touch myself, can’t get enough
Gaga’s sexuality is hers to identify as she sees fit; I tie this in to illustrate that in addition to being one of the LGBT community’s staunchest allies, she herself is a part of the community to the extent she identifies as such.
Gaga’s X factor, combined with an apparent dedication to reinventing the lost art of music video, have earned her a mind boggling list of nominations and awards, exemplified most by her iconic 2009 magnum opus Bad Romance.
I could go on about all the ways Gaga’s The Fame Monster was massive and iconic — and trust me I would love to — but this is common knowledge, so here’s the point of making this clear. Due to Gaga’s massive success with this album, the world was completely saturated with her music, her art, and her activism during Obama’s first term. The biggest question on everyone’s mind was, of course: what would she do next?
What she did next may go down in history as the single most high-impact act of LGBT solidarity in history. In three words, she changed the lives of LGBTs forever: Born This Way.
Words can be used powerfully and effectively, and few know this more than Gaga. Beyond the inherent value a sincere anthem has to begin with, Gaga’s Born This Way instantly and epically became a knowing resource for anyone in the world struggling with understanding their own sexuality, and will be available as an uplifting resource for time immemorial.
Of course, I’m speaking high level here, because there are many very good reasons “Born This Way” is a problematic expression, explored in thoughtful detail in Cassie Sheets’ 5 Reasons LGBT People Should Stop Saying We Were ‘Born This Way’. I recommend (and ask) that you read this article, because it’s a complicated issue, and Sheets is unequivocally correct in her clarification that none of us have to justify who we are, and that sexuality and identity can be fluid anyway.
But — just because we shouldn’t have to justify who we are doesn’t mean we don’t end up having to; justifying who we are can be an empowering and healthy part of anyone’s practice of self love and self acceptance. Having Gaga’s Born This Way, and knowing our LGBT family in horribly oppressive places has it too, should be something we celebrate for the power and progress it represents.
Sadly, Gaga’s crusade for the underdog fell short when she ignored Bernie Sanders’ campaign and the potential she had to change history had she taken a stand. Gaga will never be the same; it was painful to see her support Hillary, and it always will be. That is her choice and I will criticize her fairly and accordingly for it to the extent it continues. (At least she wasn’t as bad as Katy Perry, who is not in Gaga’s league in terms of talent anyway.)
I would be remiss to not mention that Gaga’s art and activism have shaped my life and worldview perhaps more than any other artist based on how prolific, multi-talented, and unrelentingly creative she is. Her music and iconic choreography inspired me to teach it to my fitness classes; I later won Oprah’s 2010 “Who is Lady Gaga’s biggest fan?” essay contest and got to sit so close to her for her set, her microphone picked up a quintessential Haller gay gasp at 3:31 in the video below. That’s me in the green shirt, pardon the suspenders:
If I ever get a copy of that essay, I’ll share it — I wrote it hungover and high on a Sunday morning before brunch just like Gaga would have wanted. But in all seriousness, I personally and on behalf of my LGBT family thank Gaga for the real career risk and sacrifice she made and makes to support my, an extremely vulnerable population. For that, I will always love her, and be indebted to her.
Hopefully she cleans up her politics and I can praise her for her leadership again soon. Until then, I’ll just be posting some pics from her shows, and being a good token gay when her songs come on at weddings.