Dear Lady Gaga: Baby You WEREN’T Born That Way

OKAY, OKAY, I’ve stated this throughout this blog, but because this has the chance to become a heated topic: this blog is a matter of my opinion. I ask you to PLEASE read the whole thing and consider what I have to say in it before you react and comment. I don’t care if you disagree with me, but I’m asking for CIVIL discussion about this topic, please.

So, I’ve held my thoughts in on this for a few days, waiting for them to simmer, before I finally decided to say something about Lady Gaga’s new single “Born This Way.” Now, you guys know that I worship at the Temple of Gaga and hopefully you also know that I’m pretty big on the Gay Rights stuff. So, the idea of Lady Gaga putting out a song like this really should have made me very, very happy.

But, to be honest? It hasn’t. I mean, there’s a number of reasons I could hit on such as:

  • The fact that it sounds like a very good remix of Madonna’s “Express Yourself”
  • The fact that it’s not BLOWING MY MIND the way a lot of her other music has…I’m thinking back to my first listen to “Bad Romance” and it was this epic up and down roller coaster musical experience. “Born This Way” just…isn’t.
  • The fact that Lady Gaga has declared it a gay anthem which…you really can’t DO. You can say you “meant for it to be a gay anthem” but you can’t decide what a group will choose as their anthem.
  • The fact that there’s genuine concerns over (likely unintentional on Gaga’s part) racism in the lyrics to the song.

But really, let’s get right to my biggest issue with the song: Lady Gaga recorded a song supporting gay rights and same sex love, mostly male on male, but when you get right down to it? Lady Gaga is a bisexual woman. As many gay male friends as she has, as much as she’s active in the gay community, she’s singing about being “Born This Way” but…she WASN’T born that way.

Don’t get me wrong! I think Lady Gaga’s heart was TOTALLY in the right place with this! I’m not at ALL upset with her about this part and I want that to be VERY, VERY CLEAR. I’m not attacking her or saying she’s bad, so let’s just get that out of the way right now.

Let me compare it to another situation: Fugazi included a song called “Suggestion” on their 1989 debut album. This song was about date rape and was written and performed from a woman’s point of view by male vocalists. It’s heralded as “deep” and “impressive” that a man could do something like that.

Once again, I LOVE that Fugazi consider themselves allies like that and that they would record a song, but…it’s “deep” and “daring” to consider what other people go through? It’s “deep” and “daring” to recognize your privilege and talk about what people without it experience? What kind of world considers basic human understanding and compassion something extraordinary?

Oh, right. This world.

Look, when women sing about rape it’s generally considered taboo, or whiny or, if they dare make a punk/rock song about it, they’re being too angry. It’s only acceptable, to much of the public, for women to sing about their rape in a minor key, with acoustic guitar and/or piano accompaniment, and of course, the focus needs to be on THEM and how they’re a victim, rather than on the person whoVIOLATED THEM. So the way to get our voices heard about what we experience walking down the street or what 1 in 4 of us will suffer at the hands of a male friend, relative or, sometimes, stranger…is for a man to sing about it.

Which is kind of the way I feel about “Born This Way.” I’m very glad Lady Gaga is speaking out about this thing that is so close to her heart, but at the same time DOESN’T IT JUST SUCK THAT IN ORDER TO GET A PRO-GAY ANTHEM ON MAINSTREAM RADIO, IT HAS TO BE PERFORMED BY A WOMAN WHO, WHILE IDENTIFYING AS BISEXUAL, EASILY PASSES FOR STRAIGHT?

Of course, there’s also this to consider: the opinion you’re reading RIGHT NOW is of a bisexual woman who easily passes for straight. I’m not claiming I speak for the gay community or for bisexuals or for anyone else but myself. Because I’m the only person I’m empowered to speak for. I know many people, including gay men, who are in love with this song and I think that’s GREAT. I don’t even HATE the song, I’m just kind of pissed off and disappointed when I think that, if an openly gay male performer had recorded this…say Adam Lambert or Ricky Martin…it likely wouldn’t release as a single. Or if it did, it would be relegated to playing in gay bars and clubs, not all over mainstream radio and being performed at major awards shows.

But that’s just my opinion. I’m sure you have yours and there’s the chance that my opinion has upset you, so I’ll say it one more time: I really do love that Lady Gaga did this with her heart, in the right place, though I’m more than a little upset at the racial stuff she included. But I’m really upset that I live in a world where SHE has to sing this instead of someone who’s actually lived through what she’s singing about.

In other words, why do we live in a world where “Born This Way” has to be performed by someone who WASN’T BORN THAT WAY?