Wallace Wylie

Lady Gaga thinks homosexuality is perverted

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Imagine you’re browsing on YouTube and you find one of those 10-minute videos where a young liberal-minded reporter enters the lions den and starts asking conservative types what they think of gay marriage.

The reporter is saying nothing, letting the typical bile flow out of the interviewee’s mouths, condemning themselves with their ignorance. An older man appears onscreen and starts lambasting the gay lifestyle. “They’re all a bunch of perverts. Dressing up and whipping themselves all the time. Not one of them is normal. They’re all perverted freaks having orgies all the time.” We allow ourselves a chuckle while inwardly gasping at the sheer idiocy of it all. But get this: Lady Gaga thinks exactly the same thing as this imaginary gentleman. Don’t believe me? Read on, friend.

From day one, Lady Gaga has set herself up as an advocate of gay rights. As a position this is clearly admirable, especially as many gay couples are fighting to secure what should be unarguable rights. So far so good. But does Lady Gaga understand the association she is making by having gay rights advocacy infused so strongly with her overtlysexual imagery that looks like dance night at an S&M club? Lady Gaga wants to be controversial. This is a given. Therefore she is playing with imagery that is meant to ruffle the feathers of the more prudish elements of American society. All fun and games, but if she imagines homosexuality to be one of those highly stylised shows of sexual degeneracy that will cause a stir then we have a problem. The problem is, homosexuality is normal. When a 25-year-old man gazes longingly at the handsome stranger who just entered the bar, he is not engaging in a degenerate, perverted activity. He is obeying a natural bodily impulse. Do some homosexuals dabble in S&M? Obviously they do, as do many straight couples. Do I have a problem with S&M? Not in the slightest. One thing should be clear, however: the rights of the S&M enthusiast come from a different legal and moral tradition than gay rights.

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28 Responses to Lady Gaga thinks homosexuality is perverted

  1. hmm February 14, 2011 at 9:24 pm

    Great article!

  2. David February 14, 2011 at 9:32 pm

    Hmm. Very interesting read. Not entirely sure I agree with you on this one, though.

  3. Darragh February 15, 2011 at 12:01 am

    Yeah, that was interesting. As with David, I’m not sure if I’m also in agreement. I think understand what you’re attempting to say, but I’m not sure if you’ve proved that Lady Gaga is simply using her advocacy of homosexuality to sell records.

  4. Wallace Wylie February 15, 2011 at 2:07 am

    Let me add that I’m not saying her advocacy of homosexuality is meant to sell records. Her highly sexualised imagery is meant to create controversy, grab headlines and sell records. That’s par for the course. All of her sexual imagery, though, is basically S & M type stuff, and lots of it is homoerotic. Then she’s going on TV talking about gay rights. So what she’s doing is connecting the gay rights movement with shocking images of a deviant sexual nature. She’s reinforcing the idea that homosexuality is perverted, is not “normal”. That’s my problem.

  5. Ben February 15, 2011 at 9:09 am

    Im not sure I agree with the main thrust of your argument – while I will concede that Lady Gaga’s performances are designed to shock, and that there are those who might link that with her stance on gay rights and with homosexuality in general, I don’t think it necessarily follows that she is deliberately connecting the two (as your headline seems to imply) or that all ‘undecided’ viewers of her videos will think the two are inextricably linked, any more than gay people watching videos by Britney Spears or Christina Aguilera will think that straight people are all into pvc catsuits etc.

    As for the quote you give, I imagine that is aimed at those of a religious bent, for whom there *is* a moral implication for homosexuality. It says to them ‘ok, your holy book says that what we do is wrong, but that’s our call to make, not yours’.

  6. Jess February 15, 2011 at 9:12 am

    What a great article. I will definitely be circulating this.

  7. FatGayVegan February 15, 2011 at 9:25 am

    What this article overlooks in my opinion is the ever-present and suffocating hetero-normative forces that consistently chip away at the self-esteem of queer people (a much more inclusive term than gay) all over the world. Gaga uses confronting and thought-provoking imagery to not only celebrate sexualities but to also resist and destroy notions of what is normal. Nothing is normal. I am a ‘gay man’ who doesn’t want to get married or live what some people see as a normal life. I find it absurd you suggest Gaga should not act so debauched in order for society to be more accepting of gay people. If someone has a problem with people pushing Gaga around on a bed or her making out in a sleazy manner, they sure as hell are not going to be accepting of what I get up to in my spare time. Gaga celebrates the freedom that comes with rejecting convention and mediocrity.To say Gaga is misrepresenting gay people with deviant sexual acts is in itself bigotry and a form of discrimination against individuals who partake in said acts. Gaga shows a sliver of what is possible with sexuality through artistic freedom. She uses her position and fame to speak up for the disenfranchised and socially-derided. Your words ‘shocking images of a deviant sexual nature’ suggest something is wrong with the sex acts Gaga portrays. I don’t think there is anything wrong, dirty or sinful about anything in any of her videos. Do you?

  8. Chad Parkhill February 15, 2011 at 11:25 am

    I have to admit that my response to this article is very similar to FatGayVegan’s. Wallace has totally undervalued the transgressive elements of queer sexuality in his analysis.

    What’s really interesting, though, is this proposed division between a John Stuart Millsian individual rights perspective and the more authentically “gay rights” perspective that homosexuality is “normal.” It’s a bit more complex than that. First of all, the language of normalcy and the norm in medical/sexological discourse emerged in the late nineteenth century, very much contemporaneous with the invention of the term and concept of homosexuality (1868). In that context it would have been impossible to claim that homosexuality was normal since only a small percentage of the population engaged in same-sex acts. If you look at the writings of the very early gay rights proponents (by which I mean the late nineteenth century and early twentieth century figures), you’ll see that they adopt any number of different standpoints to justify why their erotic preferences shouldn’t be the subject of legal sanctions. Some (such as Karl Heinrich Ulrichs) claim that homosexuality is a form of gender inversion, a developmental defect, and should thus be tolerated despite its abnormality. Others (Karl Maria Kertbeny) claim that heterosexuals or “the normally sexed” are fundamentally perverted and that only homosexuals have the proper and right libidinal drive. So really, there’s no monopoly on the “right” or “authentic” gay rights perspective – some are Millsian liberals, others believe that gay rights should come from homosexuality’s naturalness, yet others have more complex views (social constructionists, for example).

    Having said that, I did enjoy your skewering of Gaga’s “bisexuality” – you’re onto something there.

  9. Wallace Wylie February 15, 2011 at 2:37 pm

    OK, lots to address. This is good.

    First off, I would rather the connection not be made between morality and religion. As an atheist who considers himself a moral person I would have preferred that Gaga said “the religious implications of homosexuality”. She wouldn’t though, because she’s religious. I issue a challenge. Find me an atheist who disagree’s with homosexuality on moral grounds.

    Second. FatGayVegan, I think I went to great lengths to get across that I have no problem with any of the acts portrayed in Gaga’s videos. If it’s still unclear, let me state unequivocally that I have absolutely no problem with them. I should have put quotation marks around the word deviant in my comment above but I assumed the tone of my essay made it unnecessary. I think the article is pretty clear. Gaga, though, is exploiting the publics perception of those acts as “deviant and in doing so is connecting being gay, as opposed to individual sexual acts, as being some kind of transgressive rejection of norms, which I don’t think being gay is. Being gay is just the way you are. You aren’t rejecting anything. As for her rejection of convention and mediocrity, I don’t think it’s for anybody to attach labels such as mediocre to somebody’s sexual choices. What I can do, however, is label “Born This Way”, with it’s trite “Mama told me to believe in myself” bullshit, to be the most shocking example of mediocrity ever foisted upon the public. How many times have such easy self-help platitudes been churned out? I mean, at least “Whip My Hair” was catchier and it’s singer had the excuse of being 9 years old. Also, the last time I checked making a business deal that means her fans will have to go into a store that is at this present time being boycotted by LGBT groups because it gave $150,000 to a hate mongering homophobe (look up Target Corporation or read the link I posted above) is not considered a rejection of convention and mediocrity. It’s considered being a sell-out.

    Chad. I think you’re over-complicating things. I think making a distinction between individual rights and group prejudices is really the only fair distinction to make from a legal perspective. Where gay rights is right now is firmly in the tradition of civil rights. How gay rights began is important from a study perspective, but unrelated to where gay rights are now.

  10. Chad Parkhill February 15, 2011 at 4:34 pm

    Wallace, your article is not about law (and, even if it were, it’s not at all obvious why we should only distinguish between two types of legal arguments regarding gay rights when there have been dozens). It’s about Lady Gaga, and your excoriating her for falling on the wrong side of an arbitrary jurisprudential division is silly since musicians are not legal scholars.

    I would also hasten to add that how and where gay rights began is absolutely important to the gay rights movement now. The debates circling around homosexuality in the US right now are depressingly familiar to anyone who has read earlier sexological work about homosexuals or “inverts”. The fact that we are debating this issue using termininology such as “normal” and “abnormal,” and the fact that we are still debating the aetiology of homosexuality, demonstrates that we haven’t actually come that far in our understanding of the issue, while historically-aware analyses can break through these tired debates and cast the issues in new light.

  11. Wallace Wylie February 15, 2011 at 11:33 pm

    Chad. I understand where you’re coming from, but I think the single most important thing for any group to have is legal protection. A straight S & M enthusiast can get married, have kids, adopt, etc, and their sexual choices are not a matter of legal debate. Not so with many gay people in America. This is because being gay, as opposed to any particular sexual act, is seen as the problem. So therefore promoting gay rights from a civil rights perspective is not only right, but essential. Once protected, people can debate all they want about terms like normal, or whether society approves of your choices, but if you’re legally protected you can move forward with your life knowing that nobody can legally persecute you for the way you are. Society can disapprove of certain activities, but then the question is do you need societies approval for all your actions?

    Gay rights is facing many struggles in America and winning many of them, and it is doing this by being united in its belief that civil rights should be given to gay people. I don’t think any new light need be shed on their activities.

  12. Chad Parkhill February 16, 2011 at 1:59 pm

    Well, look, I’m all for civil rights. I genuinely want gay people to get married if they so desire, and I’m also certain that the separate-but-equal sop of “civil unions” will be about as successful as “separate-but-equal” facilities in the segregated South. We appear to be on the same side, really, it’s just a debate about how best to achieve those goals. I’m really not keen on the idea that an artist should sanitise their depictions of gay men in order to fit in with a broader political imperative to portray gays as “normal.”

    Having said that, I think you should have a look into the legal and social interdictions levelled against BDSM practitioners. Sure, straight BDSMers can marry and have kids (their own), but I would wager that any heterosexual couple that practices BDSM would fail most adoption character tests (which are very stringent and particularly paranoid about sexual deviancy). Then there is the fact that fetishes and kinks are brought up with depressing regularity in both divorce proceedings and child custody hearings, and the fact that BDSM practitioners can be charged with assault (depending on what they’re doing) in some jurisdictions, since one cannot legally consent to being assaulted.

  13. Wallace Wylie February 16, 2011 at 2:50 pm

    Yeah, I think we’re on the same side but disagreeing about details. I can handle that.

  14. Wallace Wylie February 17, 2011 at 12:54 am

    I decided to add one more detail. I think everyone has the right to feel normal and even boring. While this may not sound exciting, I think many people in liberal Western nations take it for granted that behind closed doors they are allowed to be anything they want, and if what they want is just to feel “normal”, regardless of the debates as to what that term actually means, then they should be given that opportunity. Until recently I was not going to question Lady Gaga’s integrity in regards to her position on gay rights. My essay above detailed my problem with her image building, but ultimately I still thought she placed a high value on gay rights. With the news that she has signed an exclusive deal with Target and is essentially making her fans go into that store, a store that, as I said, is being boycotted by LGBT groups as we speak, makes me outright question her integrity. Her decision to use gay men as hyper-muscular manservant props while she plays fairy godmother now looks all the more off-putting. An artist should not censor themselves (though they should put some thought into their actions in regards to who they are using to build up their imagery) but a corporate shill who is willing to do business with just about anybody, even if it’s a company that supports the very hate you claim to stand against, has no business claiming any kind of moral imperative and should stop using the gay community as an easy audience.

  15. ed February 18, 2011 at 8:34 am

    From this week’s Popbitch mailout:

    Lady Gaga’s over-hyped release of her Madonna rip-off, Born This Way, seems to be backfiring. Acolytes and mainstream media may have lapped it up but many fans are complaining that it feels more like a cynical marketing tool rather than genuine piece of pop. It should never be up to the artist to anoint their own work as a gay anthem – that’s for listeners to decide (and if there’s one thing that The Gays should inarguably be allowed to adopt, it’s their own anthems).

    The problem Gaga has created for herself is that by making gay fans feel like they’ve been used as a promotional weapon, everything she does is coming under scrutiny. Her S&M video stylings, closely linking the concept of “being gay” with being a freak, or an outcast, for example. Even her previously well-received attempt to support the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is being questioned, particularly her use of the line “We are not asking you to agree with or approve the moral implications of homosexuality”. What moral implications?

    No doubt she started out with good intention – she’s possibly just a victim of her own hype -but Gaga might be advised to stop focusing on politics and start focusing on pop again.

  16. Wallace Wylie February 18, 2011 at 2:23 pm

    Wow. Somebody’s been taking notes at Collapse Board.

  17. Matt February 18, 2011 at 5:11 pm

    Either that or you are some kind of unscrupulous Nostradamus who uses his unique powers to steal complaints from the future and pass them off as his own. You shameless cunt.

  18. FatGayVegan February 19, 2011 at 3:23 am

    Why on Earth have entire sentences been lifted from your article and posted in the Popbitch mailer? Do you write for them? If not, did you get credited or asked for permission? I am very intrigued as to what is going on here. And the Popbitch article refers to your comments as being the sentiment of gay Gaga fans. Very strange and/or lazy reporting.

  19. Wallace Wylie February 19, 2011 at 9:11 am

    This is all very strange. I absolutely do not write for Popbitch. Is this considered plagiarism?

    I am, however, somewhat of a part-time Nostradamus. Check out my Quatrain that I wrote way before 9/11:

    The swollen leopard stretches its paw
    From which life has become entangled
    The lion of France awakens at midnight
    While Prussia slumbers amid shattered rocks

    I rest my case.

  20. alayna February 19, 2011 at 11:48 am

    Wallace, I think your essay is dead on…I have to say that it’s actually odd to me that anyone would think what “lady gaga” has been doing is a REJECTION of convention or mediocrity in western popular media today. Seems to me like she’s the definition of those things, as far as the MTV/pop world goes. But what do I know–I haven’t watched television or listened to a top 40 radio station in at least 8 years…

  21. HiHo February 22, 2011 at 6:53 pm

    ” Gaga uses confronting and thought-provoking imagery to not only celebrate sexualities but to also resist and destroy notions of what is normal.”

    She’s a rip-off clown, and her music is generic tripe. How is that “destroy(ing) notions of what is normal” ?

  22. HiHo February 22, 2011 at 6:54 pm

    “She uses her position and fame to speak up for the disenfranchised and socially-derided.”

    What a crock of shit.

  23. FatGayVegan February 25, 2011 at 10:12 pm

    Nice to see the intelligent debate has been carried on by HiHo.

  24. Glammeristin May 23, 2012 at 10:13 pm

    The article is great. People may think they may think of something deeper than sex and music. Sex and music is good. Lady Gaga is good music icon. She is young to experiment, young to make mistekes, young to change her mind. Anuyway, today let’s think straight for her. How to be a woman (she is very plain, straigt men like pretty girls not handsome girls) in the today’s world when gay guys feel better that straight men for her? Watch out today she is looking better. Straight men don’t want her because she looked like a gay man. She can not be naturally a gay man. Physiologically only men can be gay. Lesbians are not naturally equipped for love. They were just unhappy with men. It is why they are lesbians. Gay men turned to be gay because they like sex, not many women can do what they want and they are never naturally good at it. Gaga likes gay boys. They are often pretty when young, they smell like coco butter and cash. But they don’t want her, she is not a gay, she is a woman. It is very sad to be a woman in the gay world. But let her hopes come true, one day a gay guy will marry her:) he will turn to be straight or she will turn into a man. Why not? Girls wants better tits and she wants a tiny penis to fit a hansome gay guy. Maybe I am wrong, because I am a women. I was born this way. I am sorry if I am wrong.

  25. Joseph Kyle May 23, 2012 at 11:28 pm

    It’s interesting to me, this discussion. It reminds me of the protestations I felt when I booked Pansy Division–I had some older gay friends whom I respect tell me that they felt the band was very bad for their cause, that their confrontational, in-your-face gayness was tantamount to a black-face performance. As a straight guy in my early 20s, at the time I thought it was absurd.

    As a straight guy in my late 30s, I can appreciate their position a lot more. At the time I thought it was fun, funny, and “punk.” Yet now I see it is a more complex issue, one that’s more nuanced than that. Yeah, it’s great to be brash and unapologetic; however, it’s wrong to assume that everyone falls in line with your stance.

  26. Tetiana May 26, 2012 at 3:56 am

    It’s so a controversial issue. Blue Boy Gaga is New Yorker comments. Transformer is another way to name Gaga in the talk story about a Lady Gaga concert at Radio City Music Hall. We say let’s go gaga. I’ve found a lot of discussions, so purifyed. people think one think but type something else sounding just better. When I look at her tranformations it evokes my interest, like arts, but when she was in Moscow people thought she might be arrested suspected in prostitution. Don’t walk like Gaga down the street unless you are Gaga.

  27. ...... April 24, 2017 at 4:25 pm

    You and Gaga are pervert-loving scum! Let the faggots rot in their HIV/AIDS. Why should the taxpayer foot the bill for their utterly depraved behaviour that leads to loathsome diseases?

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