Before “Born This Way”



The unprecedented pre-release anticipation for Lady Gaga’s latest single “Born This Way” owed as much to its being touted as "the next great gay anthem" as it did to Gaga-mania. When the song, which the superstar claims to have composed in 10 minutes, finally arrived, some fans rejoiced while others were underwhelmed. But whether you love it or don't quite hate it, let’s give the lady her due. “Born This Way” is one of the few mainstream anthems that unapologetically embraces queerness. Just try to name another chart topper with “transgender” in its lyrics.

For decades we’ve appropriated countless songs as our own, reading gay subtext into vague lyrics, empathizing with the longing in Judy’s “Over the Rainbow,”  the exuberant joy of The Weather Girls' "It's Raining Men" or relating to the painful isolation in Robyn’s “Dancing on My Own,” but few actually wave a flag to flaunt our individualism. Here are a few favorites that do.

11. “Don’t Tell Me” by Madonna, 2000

Some might opt for the icon’s “Express Yourself” or “Vogue,” but with lyrics that insist "don't ever tell me I'll learn, no" we have no choice. This is Madonna at her defiant best.