Discrimination in the Military
In 2010, Gaga took a fierce stand against the military’s "don’t ask, don’t tell" policy. Dressed in a frock made of meat, Gaga attended the 2010 MTV Video Music Awards accompanied by four members of the U.S. military who had been discharged or decided to resign due to DADT. When interviewed by Ellen DeGeneres later that night, Gaga revealed the meaning behind her controversial meat dress. “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.”
Continuing the Good Fight
The songstress could have stopped fighting the military’s "don’t ask, don’t tell" policy after her night at the 2010 MTV VMAs, but she continued by releasing three videos on YouTube shortly after the show. In the videos she encouraged others to contact their senators and urge them to repeal DADT. She then took the fight further by speaking at the "4the14K" rally in Portland, Maine, where she called on members of the Senate to repeal DADT. "Equality is the prime rib of what we stand for as a nation," she said to the crowd at the Portland rally. "And I don’t get to enjoy the greatest cut of meat that my country has to offer."
Born This Way
In February 2011, Gaga released “Born This Way,” the lead single and title cut from her second studio album. The track quickly claimed the top spot on the Billboard charts and made history as the first number 1 song to contain the word “transgendered” in its lyrics.
In March of 2011, Gaga was set to release and an exclusive version of her highly anticipated album Born This Way through Target stores. But when the retail giant refused to support LGBT charities groups to balance donations the company had made to an antigay politician, the singer walked away from the deal.
"That discussion was one of the most intense conversations I've ever had in a business meeting," Gaga said in an interview with Billboard magazine. "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 [antigay] groups."
Just One of the Guys
In a move that challenged gender stereotypes and conceptions, Gaga appeared at the 2011 MTV VMA’s dressed in male drag calling herself Jo Calderone and delivering an unforgettable performance of her hit song “You and I.”
Actions Speak Louder Than Words
In 2012, Gaga launched the Born This Way Foundation, a nonprofit organization that focuses on youth empowerment and related matters, such as self-confidence, well-being, mentoring, career development, and the fight agains bullying. Backing up her words with action, the songstress donated $1.2 million to help with initial efforts to get the organization off the ground. Then, with the Born Brave Bus tour, she took suicide prevention materials on the road with her to concerts. “Together we hope to establish a standard of bravery and kindness, as well as a community worldwide that protects and nurtures others in the face of bullying and abandonment,” Gaga said in a statement announcing the foundation.
Gaga Goes to Washington
It wasn't exactly a summit with the president. But Gaga did bring her message about fighting bullying directly to President Obama. During a question-and-answer session at a private fund-raiser, Gaga thanked Obama for hosting an antibullying conference and implored others in the room to do anything they could to stand up for kids. It all happened around the time that upstate New York teen Jamey Rodemeyer's suicide created headlines and the star dedicated a performance of "Hair" to his memory (see video above). She eventually did visit the White House to address the issue. Then Gaga's mom worked with top Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett on a suicide prevention program launched in 2012.
The Four Big Votes
When voters in four states had the chance in 2012 to make a difference for marriage equality, Lady Gaga helped give a boost to a social media awareness campaign called "The Four" by taping a video message. “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,” she said, hoping to reach movable mainstream voters. One of the group's cofounders called her "a major amplifier of equality.”