Updated: Feb 13, 2021
Every Friday this LGBTQ+ history month will see us look at and celebrate an iconic LGBTQ+ musician. Our second featured person is pop star and one of the ultimate modern-day gay icons, Lady Gaga.
Gaga's success speaks for itself. Ever since her 2008 debut album The Fame took the world by storm, Lady Gaga has been one of the leading lights of the music scene. Her career has gone from strength to strength, with 124 million records sold as of 2014 and no doubt tens of millions more in the seven years since, with her latest album Chromatica surely up there as a contender for her best album to date. Outside of music, she has ventured into acting and, most importantly for this article, is also an activist and philanthropist.
One of the direct beneficiaries of her activism is the LGBTQ+ community. As an openly bisexual woman, Gaga is one of the most famous queer people in the world and she uses her platform to fight for the community which has given her so much. Indeed, the liner notes of The Fame see her thank FlyLife, a marketing group specifically for LGBTQ+ people whom her label Interscope worked with to help promote the album. In the days before her success, she had trouble with getting airplay on the radio, and who had her back?
"The turning point for me was the gay community."
She has repaid that faith in bucketloads. She has appeared at numerous LGBTQ+ events, including Europride and the 2009 National Equality March, and also spoke out incredibly strongly against the USA's "don't ask, don't tell" military policy, encouraging fans to contact their senators about it. In addition, she criticised Trump's Transgender military ban and called out Mike Pence and wife for her job working at a school which actively turns away queer pupils. As a Christian woman, she called them "the worst representation of what it means to be a Christian".
But that's not all. She has been ordained and officiated the lesbian wedding of two female friends, and as a side note, appeared as guest judge on RuPaul's Drag Race, much to the sheer ecstacy of the contestants.
We still haven't covered everything and it's a testament to how much she's done that the list is so long. It is one thing to be an LGBTQ+ musician, but it is her sheer willingness to fight for her community that makes her such an icon. She isn't just open about it and hoping that that alone will make a difference. Instead, she recognises that someone in her position has to use that power for good and she does it tirelessly.
Like Gaga, 21 year-old Christine is a bisexual woman and it is Gaga who first taught her about the LGBTQ+ community. "At the time that Born This Way came out, I was 11 years old and I didn't know I was bi yet but growing up with her allowed me to grow up alongside the LGBTQ+ community. It taught me to stand up for the values of equality and love and against hatred and bigotry at an early age, in school and online. That is what I think her activism has inspired the most in me throughout my life, to stand up for what I believe in and to spread love and kindness with the voice that I have." Indeed, Christine credits Gaga with allowing her to feel comfortable with herself. "She also gave me that safe space to explore myself and my identity and when I came out to myself and my friends, having her as bisexual representation really helped me and taught me so much about bisexuality and the struggles that come along with it."
Still in her prime, Gaga continues to help and inspire millions of LGBTQ+ fans just like Christine around the world. For as long as she lives, they have a great representative for their community and one they can rely on. Her relentless campaigning is the mark of a true ally in the fight for justice worldwide and you know she'll never stop. Gaga will go down in history as one of the biggest gay icons in musical history, particularly for this era of music. A great ambassador and one who is fast becoming a living legend.