I’ve tried for a while to jump onboard the Lady Gaga bandwagon, but her overplayed songs and insane costumes just never flipped my switch. Plus, being a vegetarian, I have yet to get the image of her wandering around in a dress made of raw meat out of my head. That being said, there is no denying her influence on the gay community and philanthropic efforts.
Lady Gaga was awarded the LennonOno Grant for Peace by Yoko Ono in October for her advocacy work with the lesbian, gay and transgender people. She collaborated with Cyndi Lauper to create a lipstick that raised over $202 million to fight HIV and AIDS in 2011. She founded the Born This Way Foundation, a non-profit organization that focuses on youth empowerment. She called the National Equality March in 2009 “the single most important event of my career.” She became a fierce advocate for the overturn of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell and showed up to the 2010 MTV Video Music Awards with four gay and lesbian members of the United States Armed Forces who had been unable to serve openly.
Heck, she even wrote a song about a Nebraskan boy. We don’t get many song shout outs, so for that alone I should be grateful.
But Lady Gaga doesn’t keep all this inside the United States. Now she’s trying to bring equality to Russia, which is no easy feat. This isn’t a country open to LBGT rights – in fact, nine regions in Russia have introduced a law banning the spreading of “homosexual propaganda” among minors in March.
The country neighbors Ukraine, where lawmakers are trying to pass a bill making it illegal to openly support homosexuality because spreading homosexuality constitutes a threat to national security. How, you might ask? Well because, according to an article by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, the lifestyle choice could lead to an HIV/AIDS epidemic and destroy families and children, of course.
Lady Gaga’s tour in Russia was prefaced with the threat of arrest and a $50,000 fine if she broke the law against “homosexual propaganda” but come on, like a woman who makes entrances inside of an egg would stop doing something at the threat of an arrest.
At her “Born This Way Ball” tour, Lady Gaga told the crowd on Wednesday:
“I want to thank you, Moscow. Thank you for spreading the message of equality around the world. Thank you for spreading…the message of ‘Born This Way.’ …Get on your feet. Stand up, Russia. You have one chance…to unite. You have one night to come together for the voice of society, for equality in Moscow, equality in Russia. So stand up for yourself or stand up for your friends. Where’s all my gay kids tonight? Tonight, this is my house, Russia. You can be gay in my house. And if you ever need me, Moscow, I will just be a telephone call away.”
This didn’t go over well with Russian officials, more specifically Vitaly Milonov, the conservative behind the Russian law banning “homosexual propaganda,” who plans to launch an investigation of the star.
This sound a bit familiar? Probably because in August Madonna dabbled in an $11 million Russian lawsuit when a group of anti-gay activists accused her of traumatizing minors when she stood up for gay rights during a concert in St. Petersburg. However, the lawsuit was dropped in November.
So, while Lady Gaga and I may be on different pages stylistically, we need influential people like her who won’t stop at lawsuits to enlighten others about equality. Keep up the good work Gaga.