[artist id="3061469"]Lady Gaga[/artist] was fully committed to her male alter ego Jo Calderone during this weekend’s MTV Video Music Awards. Not only did the pop star perform her latest single, “Yoü and I,” in character to open the show , she spent the rest of the night wearing Calderone’s black suit and signature sneer.
Gaga is easily one of the most vocal lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender advocates in the pop world. She actively campaigned against the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy , has spoken openly and often about the importance of marriage equality and gave a rousing speech in Washington, D.C., last year as part of the National Equality March. So what is the LGBT community saying about Gaga’s gender-bending VMA performance?
“I thought it was great,” John Polly, editor of Logo’s pop culture blog NewNowNext.com, tells MTV News. “Gender issues are often the most challenging for people, so I liked that she dove into it and stuck with it throughout the show.”
Murray Hill, a popular drag-king comedian in New York City and host/creator of “Mr. Transman,” a female-to-male competition, agreed. “There is barely any visibility for FTM, drag kings and lesbians on television. There is a huge imbalance,” he said. “For Lady Gaga, the biggest pop star in the world, to go on TV with millions of people watching in drag as a man and then to actually say ‘lesbian and transgender’ live is undeniably powerful and creates change. She ups the visibility big time and gets the language into the mainstream.”
Polly commented on the integrity with which Gaga has approached her role as a gay-rights advocate and thinks that she might not have intended to make a statement about transgender individuals with her performance at the VMAs, but that it was perhaps perceived that way because of the political role she has adopted in other LGBT struggles. “I think it complements [her advocacy],” he said, “but I don’t know that it was even a statement on the LGBT community; it’s just a character she wanted to play. But since we don’t see [drag kings or female-to-male transgender persons] much, we perceive it that way.”
While there has been backlash against Gaga in some sectors of the gay community, particularly among activists who see a disconnect between the pop star’s outspoken activism and the fact that she is not gay herself, Hill feels she deserves recognition for being an entirely pro-LGBT voice in the music industry, which sometimes suffers from instances of homophobia.
“Lady Gaga has only spread a positive and accepting message for all kinds of queer people,” he said. “She does this through her work, which is entertainment. There is a lot of homophobic hate spewed in the music industry and in the world. I’m grateful she is using her voice to spread the love.”
Indeed, Polly told us that most of the reader feedback he’s seen on AfterEllen, Logo’s lesbian interest website, has been positive and that he personally found the performance to be a “fun challenge” for the “Born This Way” singer.
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