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Gaga for Gaga.
Lady Gaga. When I heard that name just a few years ago, I believed she was just another pop singer. But when I hear that name now, I know that I was completely wrong?
Ever since Lady Gaga’s debut album was issued in 2008, I’ve been obsessed. When her first single, Just Dance, was released it was overplayed on the radio up until August and stuck in everyone’s head; criteria for the ‘song of the Summer’. Soon after the popularity of that first single skyrocketed, the hits kept coming and I immersed myself in her career. Concerning Gaga, I knew little about her besides the music. She was shy about her personal life and beliefs while her album was still fresh on the charts.
Even before I started listening to Lady Gaga, my household had always been a very accepting environment. But it was around late Summer of 2010 in which I started to take a personal interest in gay rights.
The Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy, which prevented openly gay soldiers from serving in the military, was a fairly new Congressional matter, and it would shortly be voted on whether it should be repealed. On the evening of September 19, 2010, Lady Gaga (via Twitter) announced that the following day she would be speaking at a rally in Portland as part of a campaign to repeal DADT. My head was spinning when I read her Tweet and I could feel my pulse. The fact that I barely got a day’s notice was exhilarating. I had to go to that rally.
When I returned to school, I couldn’t focus on anything other than the day’s upcoming events. My adrenaline was already pumping. At this point I was still in shock that I would be viewing Lady Gaga in person. I couldn’t help but tell all my friends, and I formed a group that planned to meet up at Deering Oaks Park, where Gaga would make her speech.
My family is well aware of my support for the cause and gladly drove me down to the park that afternoon, even though I declared that homework for the night was completely out of the picture. Parking was a disaster. The streets were still filled several blocks away from the park. We eventually found a spot and then noticed my friends walking on the sidewalk. The group rushed through the park, passed the slower spectators, and scooted by radio station vans and reporters. We were frantic to find a decent view of the stage. Lady Gaga is a global phenomenon, so it was no doubt that she would fill the park.
It was a beautiful day, and we quickly settled on a side view of the stage up against the railing. Even though it was only a side view, it was the closest we could possibly stand. I refreshed Gaga’s Twitter account on my phone periodically in hopes of a new update. She finally announced via Twitter that she was on her way to the park. A few discharged service members spoke of their accounts with being discharged because of DADT. Other supporters spoke, and although we listened, we were all becoming impatient. When the speakers finished, we sang some of Gaga’s songs to pass the time, joined by other hysterical, impatient fans. Looking back, the wait didn’t seem to be too long. I was so starstruck that the whole day went by in a blur.
Finally, her tour bus arrived. Gaga slowly strutted from her bus to the stage, surrounded by ballistic fans. She stood at the podium (in sky-high stilettos) and stood proudly for a few minutes while waiting for the crowd to calm down. It was in this moment that it sunk in: my role model, and a powerful voice of a cause so close to my heart, is less than fifty feet away from me. She is influential enough to change the world, and she’s changing it in a way that I’m very passionate about.
Flawlessly, Gaga made her address. But unlike the usual, she was very professional and serious throughout her speech. My friends and I were frozen, listening intently but cheering when necessary for the half hour duration. By the end, we were all joining hands because we were moved. I lost my voice by the time she exited the stage. We then formed a big group hug and slowly dispersed back to our cars, groaning about having to go to school tomorrow.
Lady Gaga’s presence that day, September 20th, 2010, changed my life forever. Even though I’m a crazed, biased fan, I support gay rights 100% and believe in full equality. The policy wasn’t repealed immediately following Gaga’s speech, but the second time it circulated through Congress, she got her wish. The repeal was officially implemented on September 20, 2011. The fact that my idol changed the world right before my eyes is still astonishing to this day.
Shortly after the whole spectacle, I realized something important about myself. That day, she helped me understand that it’s alright to be different, and that difference in sexuality does not hinder performance in the military, or in any other aspect of life.
To me, Lady Gaga is so much more than just another pop act. She is the voice of the underdogs and uses her influence to move forward and make positive changes. I love Lady Gaga, and I am so thankful that I watched my idol change the world.