Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Cashing In on Lady Gaga

Lady Gaga released "Born This Way" this week. It is her love song to the gay community.

This is the first time a major artist at the top of her game put out a song about gays, lesbians, bis and transgender lives. Before her, there were courageous indies groups or singers, but none of the major pop stars would give us a song. So we adopted "I Will Survive" by Gloria Gaynor, we flooded the dance floor when "YMCA" started blasting and our transgender sisters lip-synched to a dozen torch songs written for suffering women.

So I was surprised at the reception of "Born This Way" by some of our own. "If this song is a hit," declares someone, "I will turn straight!" The common observation is that the song sounds like Madonna's "Express Yourself" - which is, to my opinion, quite accurate. But remember that (for those of us old enough) when Madonna was young, she was also relentlessly compared to the previous gay icon Barbra Streisand.

Soon, it's hip to say that Lady Gaga was cashing in on the Pink Dollar. Now THAT I take issue with!

A few days later, covers of "Born This Way" pops up in the internet. Some really excellent covers. What is striking then, is the fact that many of them took out the line "gay str9 or bi, lesbian transgender lives".

This one wants you to buy her tune on iTune:

This one does an excellent cover:

And this one's great too:

They all took out that line. So, either these artists are uncomfortable with the gay community, or they're afraid of losing a portion of their listeners who might be homophobic. Yet, at least one of them asks that you buy her neutered version of the song on iTunes!

So it seems not many people are eager to cash in on the Pink Dollar! Sometimes, we're so hip and clever that we don't know our asses from our heads. Turns out Elton John and Dan Savage are right again - Lady Gaga has more balls than many. If you ask me, some of our own reaction clearly shows that we're dealing with internalised homophobia. Like dogs that were used to abuse, some of us instinctively bit back when Gaga offered us a real present.

"Learning to love yourself " sounds an easy task, but like everything that sounds simple, there is a lot of hard work. The good news is that finally, we have a really cool anthem of our very own by a really cool, ballsy artist. The other good news is that here is another opportunity to learn what is homophobia. 

Those young artists are talented. I hope though that this event gives them the same opportunity to see what is courage and how they can get some courage of their own.