Toronto
2 min

Fuzzy, furry or skinned: Dissecting Lady Gaga’s fight for gay rights

There’s been a lot of Gaga noise recently.

Yes, she attended the Sept 12 MTV Video Music Awards clad in an outfit — gown, Juliet cap and platform heels — made entirely of raw meat.

And no, the reasoning behind the ensemble wasn’t particularly clever.

“Well, it’s certainly no disrespect to anyone that’s vegan or vegetarian,” she told Ellen DeGeneres during their post-VMAs interview.

“[The outfit] has many interpretations, but for me this evening, if we don’t stand up for what we believe in, if we don’t fight for our rights, pretty soon we’re going to have as much rights as the meat on our bones. And—” as she holds up the September issue of Vogue Hommes Japan, the cover of which features Gaga in a raw-meat bikini, “— I am not a piece of meat.”

The Vogue Hommes Japan September edition actually boasts multiple cover options. In addition to the Gaga-raw-meat-bikini bit, there are three different covers that feature Gaga in drag, as alter ego Jo Calderone, model and mechanic extraordinaire.

Critics have been quick to dismiss the VMA appearance as stunt-based pomp and pageantry.

Gaga, however, has a plan. And despite its fuzzy logic (carnivore or not, exploiting animal rights for the sole purpose of demanding human rights is problematic no matter how you — ahem — wear it), the plan is worth continued scheming.

After all, Gaga’s battle royal is with the US Senate as she agitates for the revocation of the US military’s phobic Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT) policy.

Let’s revisit those VMAs. Gaga’s escorts for the night were four ex-service members — David Hall, Stacy Vasquez, Mike Almy and Katie Miller – all discharged from the military because of their sexuality. Allies at her side, Gaga slammed DADT on the pre-VMA white carpet and again on-stage (where she swept the awards — Video of the Year, Best Collaboration and Best Choreography, to name a few). And during her post-VMA interview with DeGeneres (which aired on Sept 13, during the Ellen season premiere), Gaga again called for repeal of DADT.

The timing couldn’t be better. On Sept 13, Senator Harry Reid announced a DADT repeal vote (scheduled for Sept 21). He and Gaga have since engaged in a flurry of DADT-opposed dialogue via Twitter (Gaga’s six million Twitter followers in tow). 

On Sept 16, Gaga made a public service announcement taking DADT to task for what it is — an unconstitutional exercise in “gay profiling” — and demanding the US Senate “do [its] job” and abolish the legislation.

And on Sept 20, Gaga, known for her queer rights rallying cry (see, for example, the 2009 National Equality March), took to the stage at an anti-DADT demo in Maine.

Yes, her fiery call to arms included more of that fuzzy logic: “Equality is the prime rib of America. Equality is the prime rib of what we stand for as a nation. And I don’t get to enjoy the greatest cut of meat that my country has to offer. Are you listening?” she screamed. “Shouldn’t everyone deserve the right to wear the same meat dress that I did? Repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

And again, the freshly butchered as a metaphor for rights-entitlement isn’t working. But the crux of her 17-minute speech is.

“If you are not honourable enough to fight without prejudice, go home.”

Mouthpiece appears in every second issue of Xtra.