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  • - [Woman] Talented, brilliant, incredible, amazing,

  • showstopping, spectacular, never the same, totally unique,

  • completely not ever done before,

  • unafraid to reference or not reference,

  • put it in a blender,

  • shit on it, vomit on it, eat it, and give birth to it.

  • That's Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta in a nutshell.

  • The singer, artist, performer, actor, writer, activist,

  • pop queen, and queer icon is beloved by many

  • and known by all as Lady Gaga.

  • But Gaga's found a particularly large fan base

  • within the queer community.

  • To understand the community's obsession with Lady Gaga

  • we need to travel back down a long rainbow timeline.

  • Some of Lady Gaga's critics have said her homages

  • to pop culture history are unoriginal

  • and have even accused her of ripping off other artists.

  • Madonna, herself, once called Lady Gaga's work reductive.

  • But when viewed through a queer lens,

  • Gaga's not a con artist but a drag queen in her own right.

  • Drag has long been a part of the queer and trans community,

  • particularly the Black community.

  • In the late 1800s, William Dorsey Swann, a former slave,

  • was the first self-proclaimed queen of drag.

  • Swann hosted drag balls and took political action.

  • Also, a first to protect the community.

  • According to writer Brian O'Flynn,

  • "Drag today is about borrowing cultural references

  • "to construct a persona."

  • Many drag queens take inspiration from,

  • and impersonate, beloved icons.

  • O'Flynn states, "She borrowed tropes to construct

  • "the persona that accrued her fame,

  • "figuratively lip syncing along to legacies of Cher,

  • "Madonna, and the stars she imitated.

  • "She invented Gaga in the same way that drag queens

  • "do their own alter egos."

  • Gaga is not the first pop star to utilize dag fundamentals

  • to cultivate and reinvigorate her career.

  • For instance, take Cher or Janet Jackson or even Madonna.

  • These women have constantly reinvented themselves

  • decade after decade drawing on

  • cultural inspiration to do so.

  • Additionally, performances that would exaggerate

  • effemininity, like those of Cher and Gaga,

  • border on that of drag performance

  • according to the professor Dr. Katrin Horn.

  • Let's not forget Gaga's overt drag performance

  • at the 2011 VMAs where she appeared

  • as Jo Calderone, Gaga's lover.

  • In her performance as Jo, lasting the entire evening,

  • Gaga makes many statements on masculinity.

  • She began her performance with a monologue

  • in which Jo laments his relationship with Gaga, stating,

  • "I want her to be real but she says, 'Jo, I'm not real.

  • I'm theater.

  • You and I, this is just rehearsal'."

  • During a backstage interview with Jo,

  • confusion amongst the journalists can be heard

  • while Jo continues spewing hyper masculine answers.

  • In this performance, Gaga critiques not only on masculinity,

  • but gender as a whole,

  • pointing out its theatrical nature,

  • including the sexualization and objectification of herself,

  • Gaga, by herself, Jo.

  • Gaga's been open about her appreciation of drag

  • and the way that she utilizes it in her life.

  • In the 2018 film "A Star is Born",

  • Gaga's character Ally first performs as a part of dragnet

  • amongst real life drag queens, of which at least one,

  • Shangela, was specifically requested by Gaga.

  • Ally does her own pseudo-drag

  • while she belts out "La Vie in Rose".

  • He use of drag has a profound impact on her audience.

  • As O'Flynn states,

  • "Every person needs references to inform

  • "their social performance,

  • "to do a sort of drag in their daily lives.

  • "She taught a new generation of young queer people

  • "how to drag up and identity out of a barrenness

  • "around them, by looking to history and pop culture."

  • The drag queens have often been compared to the divas

  • of the opera and at the heart of the connection is camp,

  • something that's begun to cross over

  • from the queer community and into the mainstream,

  • so much so that in the 2019 Met Gala,

  • the theme was Camp: Notes on Fashion,

  • co-chaired by Lady Gaga.

  • And as pointed out by Lena Waithe's outfit at the Gala,

  • "Black drag queens invented camp."

  • But defining the word camp remains easier said than done.

  • One option is, "A style or mode of personal

  • "or creative expression that is absurdly exaggerated

  • "and often fuses elements of high and popular culture."

  • Or in a word artpop.

  • I mean, Lady Gaga.

  • Gaga comes from a long line of divas beloved

  • by the gay community.

  • One of the earliest gay icons in the modern era

  • is Judy Garland, who rocketed to fame

  • in "The Wizard of Oz" in 1939.

  • She became so iconic in the queer community

  • that the term, "Friend of Dorothy,"

  • became slang for being gay.

  • Following her would eventually be her own daughter,

  • Liza Minnelli, along with many other musical icons

  • like Barbara Streisand, Donna Summers, Grace Jones,

  • Bette Midler, Dolly Parton, Tina Turner,

  • Madonna, Whitney Houston, Cher, Diana Ross,

  • Janet Jackson, Mariah Carey, Britney Spears,

  • Christina Aguilera, Beyonce, and the list goes on.

  • According to psychotherapist Joe Kort,

  • there are several theories for the connection

  • between pop stars and, in particular, gay men,

  • ranging from gay men living vicariously through

  • the glamorous and resilient starlet

  • basking in male attention

  • to acting as a mother figure to men

  • whose real mothers left something to be desired,

  • or to starting as an escape

  • from the pressures of masculinity placed on boys

  • of all sexual identities that blossoms into

  • a lifelong attachment.

  • Where straight men might place those feelings

  • into romantic partners,

  • gay men have Mariah.

  • And while Lady Gaga may serve as any, all,

  • or none of those to her fans,

  • for many she holds an almost religious space in their lives,

  • with many stating that she saved them.

  • But maybe our love for our mother monster

  • isn't rooted in opera, camp, or drag.

  • Perhaps our adoration stems from her unabashed love

  • and support for us.

  • After all, she's been an out and proud bi-woman

  • since the beginning of her career.

  • When she confirmed her queer identity

  • during a 2009 national interview,

  • it was seen as momentous for some.

  • She's since spoken on bi-erasure within the community

  • and hinted on her own feelings of not belonging

  • in the very community she works hard to uplift.

  • She's spoken of creating space for her fans,

  • "I guess what I'm trying to say is I want to liberate them,

  • "I wanna free them of their fears

  • "and make them feel like they can create their own space

  • "in the world."

  • She's gone on to speak about LGBTQ rights,

  • do charitable work,

  • including the creation of her own foundation,

  • the Born This Way Foundation,

  • to help on bullying and provide support to LGBTQ youth,

  • and even created a physical space for her fans

  • during her Born This Way Ball

  • and the Born Brave Bus to connect

  • and share their experiences.

  • Not to mention her music which often celebrates

  • individuality, queerness, and self-love,

  • most notably her song "Born This Way",

  • which was partially inspired by queer music history

  • and became a near instant LGBT anthem.

  • However, the song was not met with universal approval

  • within the community.

  • Many felt it pandered to queer audiences.

  • "The song was chosen for us as an anthem

  • "as opposed to us finding on our own."

  • And others noted that Gaga profiting off of a song

  • intended to uplift us

  • and essentially commercializing the community

  • did not sit well with them.

  • Despite these criticisms, the song has been blared

  • in many queer spaces for the last decade.

  • But it is the acceptance and celebration she created

  • within all her music and persona that not only creates

  • a safe space for queer people,

  • but also challenges and queers the heteronormative culture

  • of pop music.

  • While Lady Gaga is certainly not the first pop icon

  • idolized by the queer community,

  • and will definitely not be the last,

  • the worship of divas and camp will always be a part

  • of the queer community's DNA,

  • as it has been for years.

  • Gaga's impact on the youth of the 21st century

  • will be long lasting.

  • And we'll be dancing to her bop songs till the 22nd century,

  • or at least we'll have a world

  • (upbeat instrumental music)

- [Woman] Talented, brilliant, incredible, amazing,

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What Makes Lady Gaga A "Gay Icon"?

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    林宜悉 posted on 2020/10/24
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