The first time I heard Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way” I thought it was passé, clubby, and un-artful. I pictured it as a runway song for Ru Paul’s Drag Race (great show, by the way), or an ok reinvention of a Madonna song, but not a radio hit. I mean come on, born this way? We’re way past the point of needing a song about “you’re gay and it’s ok”, or are we? The more I listened to the song and thought about what other music artists have done towards the fight for equal rights the more I realized that this song isn’t so passé, and that we might actually need to hear something like this by an artist who is so big in today’s music scene.
It’s hard for me to think of another big-name pop star who dedicated a song to gay culture as blatantly has Lady Gaga has, but I’m sure they’re out there. Consider Ke$ha’s “We Are Who We Are”. I guess this can be translated to mean “it’s ok to be gay”, but the message isn’t as out there as Lady Gaga’s song. This isn't to say that pop artists aren't aware of gay people because they don't write the songs about them, because I'd be wrong in that accusation - Beyonce got gay people in ALL her videos! I just think it's good that a catchy song that everyone listening to top 40 radio will hear has to do with this subject. I was fortunate enough to have come out at a pretty early stage in my life, so I didn’t have to go through the adult “double-life” sort of thing, so for that reason my view of gay culture and gay progress is a little skewed at times. I forget that many people still don’t know how to come out and be who they are, simply because they are afraid or uncomfortable. I forget that we live in a country where most people (based on votes) don’t think that gay people have the rights to marriage (and adoption in some states). Clearly we’re heading in the right direction, with the dissemination of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and with DOMA on it’s way out, but there is still so much further to go. I know I say it all the time, but I truly believe that the Civil Rights movement was so affective because minorities were tired of being treated as second rate citizens, and began treating themselves as equals. I can only imagine how difficult it would have been for the Little Rock 9 to go into school that day with all of the people in opposition yelling and spitting and them. Thank goodness Forrest Gump helped one of those girls who dropped her books in front of the school on that historical day, right? It took a lot of nerve for black people to go into the “White Only” soda shops and get drinks poured all over them, or for Rosa Parks to not get up on the bus. Why do we hide behind the excuse that "Who I date is my business" or "That has nothing to do with my work or my friends"? That may be the case, but we all know who President Obama is married to, don't we? Other politicians and people of power don't keep their wives a secret, and neither should we. What are we willing to do today for the gays of tomorrow?
Anyway, THAT’S why I changed my view on this song and decided it was important. Her lyrics are good, and her puns are clever, including the “don’t be a drag, just be a queen” line. The music video came out on Monday, and as usual with Gaga, it left people with an initial raised eyebrow of confusion and impression. I’m sure there are some references I don’t get, but that’s what makes it art – we’re not supposed to get everything at the surface level, and not everything is supposed to be "pretty" or "comfortable" (I still don't know what the hell those skeleton tux things are supposed to mean). One of the biggest things I’ve heard people talk about is the alien birth thing at the beginning of the video, with all of the mucous and juices and shots that look like vaginas. Trust me, if anyone doesn’t want to see a vagina it’s me, but let’s face it, we were all born that way, so getting a reminder of that in this video, I think, was a good move. I also find it highly symbolic when Gaga enters the room with all of her dancers in a stance, and she takes her place in the front, copying that bodily position. To me, this can represent a person’s fear of being different, and conforming to the world around them. As the video progresses, the choreography evolves (symbolically) from a single status quo that everyone must fit in, to difference and individuality, all for a single purpose – I’ll be learning those counts.
I won’t give my whole account on the video, because I think it’s important for people to have their own opinions on works of art, so as I always do at the end of my blogs, I’ll encourage you to go listen to it, watch the video, and think about the purpose of this sort of thing in pop culture (and social culture) in today’s United States. I won’t do my usual call to arms, so to speak, and say that all you gay people in the closet are setting us behind in gay rights, but I'll simply agree with Gaga’s lyrics and redmind you that: “There’s nothin’ wrong with lovin’ who you are…cause [God] made you perfect, babe”. Mi amore vole fe yah - Love cannot exist without truth.