Lady Gaga thinks homosexuality is perverted
One of the great defences of gay rights goes something like this: gay people do not have a choice and should not be condemned by society for obeying natural impulses that cause no harm when practiced by consenting adults. As a position it is unarguable; but what if it weren’t a choice? What if everybody felt raging sexual emotions toward everyone, but homosexuality were simply frowned upon or outlawed as unnatural due to religious beliefs or folk traditions? A case could still be made for the practice to be legal among consenting adults, but it would not come from a gay rights philosophy, it would come straight out of the John Stuart Mill tradition of the individual being at liberty to do as they wish as long as it does not harm others. It’s all the same isn’t it? No, it is not. A gay woman can press for her right to marry but still support the war in Iraq, or the law that a Corporation should be allowed to make donations to political parties, or indeed any political position she pleases. She can even think S&M is perverted. Being gay does not come with a set of beliefs. The civil rights movement was not based on a John Stuart Mill philosophy of individual rights, it was founded on the notion that black people had the same rights under law as white people. Gay rights advocacy groups ask that we see homosexuality as normal, and that homosexuals be given the same rights as heterosexuals, not for homosexuality to be viewed as a kink, or as a challenge to the patriarchal society, or as a rejection of norms. No, they simply wish it to be seen as normal.
So back to Lady Gaga. Let me reiterate, I see her support of gays rights as noble, and her support of gay charity groups as helpful. There is. however, something not quite right in her portrayal of homosexuality as a pervy side show to make the soccer moms blush. It makes her support of gay rights look like a marketing strategy, and it associates homosexuality with sexual practices that are obviously seen as deviant and shocking. In a Rolling Stone interview she claimed bisexuality, stating that her attraction to women was a problem for the men in her life. The fact that she never mentioned whether her attraction to men was a problem for the women in her life, and the interviewer never thought to ask, suggests that there really are no women in her life as a serious relationship prospect and that her ‘bisexuality’ is entirely imagined, an image-building excercise, or an occasional indulgence in what she sees as shocking behaviour, and something she will grow out of. Her supposed bisexuality is nothing to do with gays rights and everything to do with individual rights, closer to Ron Paul than Harvey Milk.
I worry that, in a PR sense, her attempt to connect homosexuality so strongly with what are seen as deviant sexual acts will actually play into the hands of many religious bigots who see homosexuality as a perversion. One can say that it isn’t Lady Gaga’s fault if they make that connection, but seeing as Lady Gaga clearly makes that connection too it doesn’t really stand up as a defence. So what if Lady Gaga thinks none of these acts are deviant? Well, she clearly knows that other people think they are, and by wrapping them all up in a provocative package she is, at the very least, exploiting their ability to shock, and by including homosexuality in that product she seems to be exploiting the idea of homosexuality as a deviant act. Don’t tell me that the video for ‘Alejandro’ was anything other than a second-rate attempt to shock, a pale shadow of Madonna’s ‘Like A Prayer’ controversy. If she wants to shock people, fine, but by tying her actions in so closely with gay rights she risks reinforcing all the most bigoted and backwards beliefs about the homosexual lifestyle, and that’s a problem.