A week never goes by without Lady Gaga being in the news. This week the talk straddles both ends of the spectrum — the good and the bad.The good news is all about Pride.
Lady Gaga will participate in the gay pride parade in Rome’s Circus Maximus – the closing event of 2011 EuroPride. Gaga will be among a number of celebrities in attendance, including Italy’s musical icon, Luciano Pavarotti. (Oops, that is actually my dream as Pavarotti died in 2007).
EuroPride is Europe’s largest pride parade, with more than 1 million marchers. It started in 1992 in London, and each year a different city hosts the parade. This year’s festivities will end on Saturday, June 11.
News of Gaga’s presence at Pride was greeted by enthusiasm in Italy — even the US ambassador to Italy, David Thorne, weighed in. Thorne said that he is “very proud to have an Italian-American artist of her stature” come to Rome. He quoted US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as saying, “human rights are gay rights and gay rights are human rights."
And talking of human rights brings us back to the bad news.
The same day it was announced that Lady Gaga had accepted an invitation to participate in EuroPride, her album Born This Way was temporarily banned in Lebanon.
According to the Los Angeles Times, boxfuls of the new CD were intercepted at Beirut’s international airport by Lebanese authorities.
Despite having sold millions of copies worldwide, Born This Way will not be available in Lebanese music stores for now. One official said the CDs were seized because they were potentially offensive to the country’s Christian population.
"We collected the CDs on the grounds that the music was offensive to religion,” said one official from the office of censorship. “They are still in our offices. We are still deciding what to do with them."
Music stores are hopeful that the record will not be banned. Occasionally the censorship office, at Lebanon’s General Security headquarters, edits offensive material without issuing a complete ban.
At Virgin Megastore’s main branch in Lebanon, the senior music supervisor hopes officials will black out song titles such as “Judas” and “Bloody Mary” on the CD case and then allow the album to circulate in the market.
The case has already stirred outrage in the country.
On one side, Christian elders say they will not tolerate any insult to their religion and the album should be banned. On the other, free-speech advocates say that officials should spend their time “forming a government or fixing the country’s dilapidated electricity network [rather] than poring over Lady Gaga’s lyrics in search of racy innuendos.”