Have I ever mentioned my mother’s custom made green and purple tinted bifocals? They are tinted in a sort of color fade that goes from lime green at the bottom to lavender at the top. She designed the color blend herself, and had them produced by a gay optician on Broadway (the gay district) in Seattle. I went with her to pick them up and got to listen to her try and argue with the gay optician that she was a bigger queen than he was. I don’t know how far my mother’s knowledge of gay male culture extends, whether or not she’s aware of the custom of certain gay men referring to themselves and others as queens. She has always had a deep desire to be royalty, and I suspect that she just couldn’t handle hearing the term used on anyone besides herself, no matter how potentially culturally appropriate. In the photograph above, it sort of looks like my mother is giving the peace sign. She is in fact reaching out to try and block the camera, making the classic “no photos” gesture.

I have done some further investigation in follow up to my previous post about Lady Blah-Blah, because it occured to me that I could be guilty of stereotyping, and that can be an ugly thing. I fell sick with a flu, and in the first days of the sickness I conducted a poll via text message to all of the gay boys in my phonebook. I asked each participant, “What do you think of Lady Gaga?” The results were somewhat heartening to me, in that there were definitely some statements of uncertainty about her, and a bit of legitimate critique of what she is doing. I was relieved to find that my pals hadn’t totally united in a lockstep headed for her next concert. But I have to say, the boys that did subvert the trend seemed to be fighting upstream to maintain their critical stance. They said things like, “it’s complicated…” Meanwhile I received two responses which were literally just the words: “Love her.” (Just like I said in my earlier post!!!!) My favorite response was this: “Thumbs down but it’s a long conversation. The concept and reality don’t match, and in that failure I turn my back.” Ahh the gay opinion, so glad to have you on board.


I received one positive comment about her, which I did enjoy, which was: “She works hard and talks less. She reminds the gays of ourselves.” I get that.* I see her working hard. But I feel like, following the sentiment of the “thumbs down” comment above, the whole thing just isn’t totally working for me. I get that she is kind of trying to make a meta-comment about fame, attempting to be a court jester among the stars and to make the system visible for the game that it is. What I end up experiencing more, though, is the sensation of onslaught by the whole marketing machine behind her. When I see her, mostly what I see is a successful business plan. A caustic voice in my head comments that she probably saw the gay audience as a resource which was being underutilized, and took obvious steps to capitalize on their loyalty. Ugly stereotypes indeed, from my very own mouth. Don’t get me wrong, I am happy to see anyone showing love to the gays. I am just more excited when I see it coming from somewhere less predictable. For example, what do Marvin Alverado and Angel Hernandez have to say about Gay Marriage? Only click that previous link if you want to have your stereotypes messed up.

yarn king

And here is my last statement on L.Gg.: I would love her so much more if she would come out and say something like, “I stole everything I have from Madonna and The Homos. The only thing that’s really mine is my big nose.” (Which is in fact the best thing about her if you ask me.)**

And my last statement in general is: How are we ever going to make it without Alexander McQueen to lead the way? We can all stand around arguing all day long about who is the queen of this or that, he just quietly went ahead and blew our minds. I mean, talk about challenging genres and making performance and art where none was expected. RIP, dear sir. The world will certainly only be more predictable without you in it, and I am not looking forward to that one bit.



*The friend who wrote me the comment that Lady Gaga works hard and talks less knows that I talk A LOT and can tend to be fairly lazy, so his comment especially tickles me.

**Look, I can’t stop talking about her! One more comment: Lady Gaga repeatedly refers to her work in pop music as being performance art, and of course a statement like this would snare me. I guess, if her idea of performance art is dressing wacky and smearing yourself in blood, then she does have some historical grounds for making that reference. However, she isn’t necessarily referencing very good performance art.

February 13, 2010

  1. Graham K.

    For what it’s worth, count me as a gay Gaga dissident. My relationship with the Lady started out with total apathy at the beginning of her epic career arc, only to be moved to vague excitement when I started seeing her audacious outfits pop up on gossip blogs. I had embraced Ms. Gaga and what I then perceived to be her middlebrow playful persona, even at the risk of my peers’ disapproval, but our fling did not last long. Before I knew it, the publicity machine had gone into overdrive and a league of zombie homos had followed her onto a dark and uncertain path. She had appointed herself Queen of the Gays, on what felt to me like our second date. The aptly titled “Bad Romance” sealed our fate, and I was out the door. That video was just too much. It became too clear that she would never be satisfied, never stop clawing for my affections with increasingly contrived absurdities and manufactured fabulosity.

    Thank you for this multi-part thoughtful analysis of Lady Gaga. I too hope that she one day decides to bare her true soul to us all, in a moment of spectacular and radical failure.

    Also, when is The Blow coming to L.A., guhhrrrl?

  2. Dean


    I both love your music and Lady Gaga’s (and am a straight male w/ a few lgb friends) — so I have to take some time to process this entry.

    But my initial thoughts are that you are stereotyping her (as you, yourself, are self-aware of). I see her as elevating certain subjects into the public’s consciousness — and for that I applaud her. I also relate to the material in her music, and I think she works really hard at producing her ‘art’ — and she has some legit creds in being ‘artistic’ (she spent some time at Tisch @ NYU before dropping out to just pursue performing, rather than thinking about performing).

    I’m gonna process more and try and get back here, if I have the time to. But I’m glad you pondered these questions, I do think a lot of ppl just love her without thinking about why they should. I’ve thought about why I love her, lemme think about it more.

  3. Dean

    Also, Lady Gaga considers and talks openly about her bisexuality — she sees herself as part of that community (legitimately, if you watch her talking about it on youtube, this isn’t a publicity stunt — well, in my opinion. She seems sincere. OK, I’ll stop taking up too much blog space.

  4. Dean

    This clip is short, but it gives you a glimpse and humanizes her –it’s her speaking with Ellen: She has worked hard since childhood at performing, she ‘put in the time’ sorta speak — all while being herself + she played at gay bars all the time. I don’t think anyone, herself included, could have predicted how successful a business plan that would turn out to be.

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