For over a decade, Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta, Lady Gaga for short, has had one clear objective in mind: to promote the gay agenda. And The Lady is the first one to admit it: in one of her first cover story interviews (Out, September 2009), Gaga said that she wanted to “inject gay culture into the mainstream. It’s not an underground tool for me. It’s my whole life. So I always sort of joke the real motivation is to just turn the world gay.” But now, it seems, Mother Monster has escalated her own ambitions for a queerer world: she has managed to turn an epic pillar of queer culture – a classic musical movie whose main character has been portrayed by both Judy Garland and Barbra Streisand – into an even gayer film.
After director and co-star Bradley Cooper cast Gaga in the upcoming remake of A Star is Born, she told him about the venues she used to perform in Manhattan as an undiscovered artist, prompting him to change the location of their characters’ first meeting to a drag bar. To keep things in the family, Gaga handpicked Drag Race alum Shangela to play her drag mother — and even insisted when the drag superstar initially declined to audition for the role.
Lucky for us, the tools that Gaga uses to achieve her life aspirations are art, drama, humor, and fashion. Here’s a look at other winks at the LGBTQ community by the mother of all Little Monsters — some subtle, some scandalous — but all deserving of our applause.
1. She showed her commitment to the LGBTQ community from her early days of über stardom.
In the summer of 2009 Gaga won one of the first of the many, many awards she’s received in her career. When the video for her second single “Poker Face” beat out Beyoncé’s “Single Ladies” and won International Video of the Year at Canada’s MuchMusic Video Awards, Gaga gave a short, sweet, and sincere acceptance speech: she gave thanks “to God and the gays,” sending the LGBTQ community a sign of what was to come.
2. She read the U.S. President for his administration’s treatment of the LGBTQ community. (And that is not the president you are thinking.)
In that gaylaxy far, far away, when same-sex unions still felt like an impossible dream, and LGBTQ Americans couldn’t serve openly in the military, the then-23-year-old overt-the-top singer went to Washington, D.C. to participate in the National Equality March. At a rally held on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol Building, Gaga was feisty: “ARE YOU LISTENING?” she screamed demanding action from President Obama. “We will continue to push your administration to bring your promise to reality.”
In that same weekend, she attended the Human Rights Campaign gala and took a stand when she took the stage. “I’m not going to play one of my songs tonight because tonight is not about me. It’s about you,” she told the black-and-tie crowd. She then sang John Lennon’s classic “Imagine,” acknowledging the music industry’s “tremendous amount of accommodation of homophobia.”
3. She went from wearing haute couture to wearing raw meat to protest against Don’t Ask Don’t Tell
At the 2010 MTV Video Music Awards, the most nominated artist of the evening arrived at the Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles wearing “the number-one look in my career” as she recently revealed (a stunning gown from the late designer Alexander McQueen’s final collection) accompanied by four members of the U.S. military who had been discharged or resigned because of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.
Later in the show, when she went back on stage to receive the award for Video of the Year for “Bad Romance,” Gaga had changed into the now-infamous “meat dress,” as a way to show her anger about the military’s anti-LGBTQ policy. “If we don’t stand up for what we believe in and if we don’t fight for our rights, pretty soon we’re going to have as much rights as the meat on our own bones,” she later explained to Ellen DeGeneres. The fight for the repeal of DADT, in fact, became a constant in her career – she urged senators to act, she headlined rallies, she made videos that went viral – until it finally became a reality in 2011. And when Donald Trump decided to implement his own trans military ban in 2017, she was quick to react: “The message you have just sent has endangered the lives of people all over the United States and overseas bravely serving our nation,” she tweeted.
4. She went off Target
For the much anticipated follow-up to her massively successful first studio album The Fame (and its subsequent multi-Grammy-winning reissues), Gaga struck a business deal with Target: An exclusive edition of her sophomore album, Born This Way, with remixes and additional studio cuts, to be sold exclusively by the retailer. “Part of my deal with Target is that they have to start affiliating themselves with LGBT charity groups and begin to reform and make amends for the mistakes they’ve made in the past… our relationship is hinged upon their reform in the company to support the gay community and to redeem the mistakes they’ve made supporting those groups,” she told Billboard in an interview in February, 2011. Apparently they didn’t do enough. A month later, Gaga made news when she announced that the partnership was off.
5. She made history with Billboard’s Hot 100’s 1,000th No. 1
Sir Elton John gagged when he first heard “Born This Way.” Gaga’s third No. 1 single was “the new ‘I Will Survive’,” he told Entertainment Weekly, “the new gay anthem.” Released in early 2011, as the first single of the eponymous album, the club-ready banger was a celebration of queerness, self-acceptance and empowerment. It instantly became a favorite Gay Pride classic: “No matter gay, straight, or bi/ Lesbian, transgender life/ I’m on the right track, baby/ I was born to survive” were words that became as radio mainstream as possible. The following year Gaga, along with her mother Cynthia Germanotta, created the Born This Way Foundation, a nonprofit committed to “supporting the wellness of young people and empowering them to create a kinder and braver world.”
6. She rocked the vote, for the social media generation.
In 2012, when the presidential ballot in four U.S. states also contained marriage-related measures, Gaga participated in a social media campaign that urged people to get out and vote. The initiative called “The Four 2012” was modeled after MTV’s iconic Rock the Vote campaign from the 1990s, with it aimed to increase awareness and vote participation. Gaga recorded a video message to explain how voters could make a difference, and how crucial vote participation was: “I just wanted to remind those of you who live in Maine, Minnesota, Washington, or Maryland that you can actually vote for marriage equality on the ballot this year.”
7. Mother Monster takes on Mother Russia!
When the Born This Way Ball Tour hit Russia at the end 2012, Gaga was accused of breaking the city’s anti-gay propaganda law. She was threatened with arrest and a $50,000 fine, as Reuters reported, but that didn’t stop her. The show went on as planned, to the delight of her Russian fans, and a few days later she brought her message of inclusiveness to Moscow. Less than a year later, Russia’s lower house of parliament passed a similar law that criminalized any form of pro-gay speech or public display of affection anywhere in the country, and Mother got pissed. Gaga took to Facebook and Twitter to express her anger, and vowed to fight for her Russian fans. “The Russian government is criminal. Oppression will be met with revolution. Russian LGBTs you are not alone. We will fight for your freedom,” she wrote.
8. She helps LGBTQ homeless youth.
Over the 2016 holidays Gaga paid a surprise visit to LGBTQ homeless youth at New York’s Ali Forney Center. “I spent a beautiful morning w/[LGBTQ] youth @AliForneyCenter the largest drop-in center in the [world]. I brought [presents] & led them in a group meditation,” she later tweeted in an emoji-filled message. That wasn’t the first time that Gaga had used her voice and star power to bring attention to this cause. During the Monster Ball Tour she paired up with Virgin Mobile to recruit volunteers to help.
“More than 2 million young people will experience some form of homelessness this year. One in every five homeless youth in the community identify themselves as gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender,” she said. “This makes me very angry. Now it’s time for us to fight back. Thanks to my partnership with Virgin Mobile and the Re*Generation Campaign, hundreds of my fans have donated their time working at homeless youth shelters over the course of this year’s tour, and have all gotten free tickets to see the show. But we still need to do more.”
9. She performed “Born this Way” in front of Mike Pence (and over 115 million people)
Just a few weeks into the Trump presidency, Lady Gaga took the stage at halftime of the Super Bowl, after weeks of speculation: how would the left-leaning, Hillary supporter, and LGBTQ rights advocate use her voice in the world’s biggest platforms? While the general consensus was that Gaga toned down the politics and focused on delivering a stunning, highly entertaining and memorable – but politically tame – all-American performance, she did manage to sing “God Bless America” as a subtle message of inclusion and unity, and sang the chorus of “Born this Way” to one of the nation’s most prominent anti-equality politicians.
10. She made us go: Oh. My. Gaga!
There’s a very real possibility that the premiere or RuPaul’s Drag Race season 9 left you gagging until way after Untucked. Mother Monster herself appears as Ronnie, “New Jersey’s #1 Lady Gaga impersonator.” The moment the queens realize the real T is cathartic. Eureka tells Gaga what so many in the community have experienced: “I’ve been the closest to death, and you’ve pulled me out of it. You don’t realize what you do for people, and how much you inspire people like me and all of us,” she said fighting tears. “You allow us to be who we are.”
11. She gave us a “Come to Mama” moment.
At the opening night of the Joanne World Tour in 2017, Gaga was visibly surprised when a fan threw a pride flag onto the stage. “Excuse me sir,” she asked one of the security people guarding the stage. “May I have that gay pride flag?” She then picked it up and held it like a trophy as more than 15,000 concertgoers screamed in pure gay ecstasy at the Rogers Arena in Vancouver, Canada. “I have a lot to say about this issue,” she said before reciting a few verses from her song “Come to Mama:” “But the most important thing that I’ve got to say about it is that everybody’s got to love each other,” she said. And in the unlikely event that an anti-LGBTQ person happened to be in the venue dancing to Poker Face, she covered all of her bases: “So for any of you who don’t believe in equality that are here this evening, come to mama.”
12. She still likes to dress up in rainbow colors and celebrate Pride on the streets of her hometown.
Mother Monster doesn’t forget her roots. On Pride Day this year she posted a picture on Instagram, posing in front of her pre-fame job (an Italian Trattoria on located Manhattan’s Upper West Side and owned by her parents.)