As a teenager, I refused gifts of clothes if they were readily identifiable as brands worn by my contemporaries. Girbaud jeans were particularly au currant at Albion Middle School — so that was a nonstarter. If I was given anything in a Guess box, I pulled a nasty, petulant face. What fun for my parents.
Similarly I rejected Whitney Houston, Michael Jackson, Bon Jovi, New Kids on the Block, and even Madonna, primarily because they had massive audiences. I see in some of the backlash to the popularity of Lady Gaga the same snotty attitude I had: If it’s popular, it’s lame. Thankfully it’s one I’ve grown out of.
Say what you will about Lady Gaga’s craft. Not everyone enjoys the kind of theatrical dance music and outré fashion that have made her a household name worldwide. But her credentials in the fight for LGBT rights seem unassailable to me, and those who have a bone to pick with her on that front will find a compelling argument in Jeremy Kinser’s profile. It’s accompanied by her first magazine cover self-portrait, taken on tour in Germany. If you’re like me, you’ll gain a deeper respect for Lady Gaga and her abiding commitment to equality and to her fans, especially those who exist in the margins. And given her unparalleled access to the globe’s youth, no one in the world has more influence now, and she’s using it, and often, for good.
There are a few popular artists I’ll never come around to (I risk my gay card if I admit to some), but I’ll definitely be seeing you at the next Lady Gaga show.