Why I go gaga for Lady Gaga
There was a specific moment in ABC's Thanksgiving Day special, "A Very Gaga Thanksgiving," when I realized just exactly why I love Lady Gaga as much as I do.
As the singer sat with third and fourth graders at her old elementary school, she had them decorating hand turkeys and asked them what they ate on Thanksgiving. The kids were very bashful, but a few answered with things like ham and cranberry dressing.
After she revealed her hand turkey (which she declared was nowhere near as good as theirs), she described it to them as abstract. "Have you ever heard of Jackson Pollack?" she asked. "Yes," answered all of the students. She was clearly stunned.
Later, she admitted how endearing it was that they couldn't think of what they ate on Thanksgiving but knew who one of the most important figures in the abstract expressionist movement was. The look of pride and joy at the fact that such youngsters were familiar with someone so unique and (pardon the pun) abstract was the exact moment when a chord within me was struck.
This is why I have the weird relationship with Lady Gaga that I do. It isn't really an obsession because I don't follow her every move or read about her in gossip magazines, as I view intruding on one's personal life without his or her permission to be pathetic. Rather, it is a very, very strong admiration.
Do I have posters of her in my room? Sure, but what self-respecting gay teen doesn't?
Do I have all of her albums? Yes, but I also have albums from Keane, Sonata Arctica and The Offspring, and I'm not obsessive over them.
My point is that you won't find me denying that I indulge in the occasional Lady Gaga merchandise, yet you also will not find me watching the poor woman like a hawk, examining her every move through a magnifying glass of Gaga fixation.
My admiration isn't for Lady Gaga the flamboyant performer, but for her kind and genuine true self, Stefani Germanotta. Gaga's job is to entertain; she's a persona, a puppet for Stefani to control. Stefani's job is to make sure that what she can't do herself, Gaga can.
Lady Gaga has been the biggest influence on the LGBTQ rights movements since Harvey Milk. She led a strong campaign to put an end to the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy. Stefani Germanotta could not have done that if it weren't for her eccentric Lady Gaga persona and the star power it carries.
Most celebrities will donate to charities, adopt kids or raise money for a cause to make sure they look good. You can't blame them; they have to keep their jobs, and a good image helps that. If in doing so, they perform good deeds, then it's a win-win situation.
However, Lady Gaga started her philanthropy right out of the gate. It wasn't to look good or gain attention. She didn't need to do that; her infamous costumes and publicity stunts did it for her.
And her philanthropy isn't done just with money. Celebrities can write checks all they want, but until they start campaigns, make tour stops and do everything in their power to make sure the cause is benefited, like Gaga did with her DADT repel plea, they'll never be true philanthropists. Most celebrities' desire isn't to make humanity better; it's to get good publicity.
While Gaga does good work through her philanthropy, she also makes sure that even in her career, her messages are heard.
Obviously her enormous hit single "Born This Way," the titular song from her sophomore album, comes to mind in this regard. It's an anthem for members of the LGBTQ community and minorities in general.
But it's her other songs such as "Hair" and "The Edge of Glory" that get across messages to everyone. This shows that Gaga's desire isn't just to help a specific community but every individual out there.
While her brand of electronic pop music is definitely niche, her messages aren't. "Hair" is about the importance of identity, particularly in adolescents, and "The Edge of Glory" is about making the most of your time on Earth.
"Don't be insecure if your heart is pure/You're still good to me/If you're a bad kid baby," she sings in "Bad Kids." Gaga would certainly know how it feels to be a bad kid, considering she was a drug addict as a teen.
That is another reason why I admire her. She isn't writing and singing these songs to reach out to people in hopes they'll feel better, she's actually been in their shoes and knows she can make them feel better.
Without Gaga, I honestly wouldn't have the strength to be open about my sexuality or have the common sense to realize that being gay isn't something that defines me as a person. Without Gaga, I wouldn't have the courage to brush off being called a faggot or ignore people quoting the Bible at me and urging me to "pray away the gay."
Without Gaga, I don't know if I'd even be here.
The only people who know how tough it is to be a minority are minorities. The straight, white, religious person likely will completely miss my point and go straight to thinking Gaga is some sort of deviant because she understands and sympathizes (dare I say encourage?) with teenage rebellion.
They are the people who don't realize how hard it is to be different. Society has changed, but we still have racism and bi-, trans- and homophobia. Even women are still treated with prejudice, whether they realize it or not.
I know a lot of people aren't going to agree with my statements. I know that when this piece is posted online, there will be at least one person who feels the need to counter my every claim.
But I also know that no matter what, there will be someone out there who not only feels my pain but is fighting to end it. And that person is Lady Gaga.