Memo to gay rights supporters: If you want to convince the American public and members of Congress that repeal of the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy is a matter of basic human dignity, don’t send Lady Gaga.
It’s not the Muppet dress that does her in as a credible spokesperson on anything serious. Hey, she’s a flamboyant pop star. An outfit made of dozens of Kermit the Frogs goes quite well, actually, with the heavy eyeliner and bleached hair. Even the bubble dress--the one with transparent plastic bubbles that just manage to cover up her private parts--is de rigueur for a certain category of modern female singers.
No, it was the meat dress that crossed the line.
Lady Gaga (not her given name) wore an outfit made of unappetizing-looking red meat to this month’s MTV Video Music Awards. Gaga picked up a slew of awards and made a pitch for the repeal of don’t ask, don’t tell, both impressive displays. But how could you pay attention to the music or the political message when she was wrapped in that dress and matching shoes? Forget about whether that cheap sweater will make you break out in an allergic rash. Was Gaga risking a mad cow disease outbreak?
One of the reasons gays and lesbians have made the legal progress they have is that Americans realized they were not just a bunch of scary, outrageously dressed characters out to corrupt the morals of the country. Despite an early outcry over what gay marriage would do to the sanctity of marriage (this from a country that has kept The Bachelor and The Bachelorette on the air), people realized fairly quickly that their worlds and their own marriages did not end simply because the two guys down the street exchanged rings. The increasing acceptance of gay and lesbian relationships relies on the recognition that same-sex couples--aside from their genders--are pretty much like their heterosexual neighbors.
Lady Gaga took her case this week to Maine, trying to put pressure on GOP Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins to back a repeal of don’t ask, don’t tell in a defense spending bill. Celebrities can help in galvanizing support, attracting both attention and their own fan bases. And Lady Gaga, at least, put on some clothes for the event. But it’s hard to hear the important and serious message of respect for human dignity from someone whose attire needs to be refrigerated between wearings. It simply fuels the unfounded fears of the homophobic.
Sen. John McCain, whom Gaga has targeted for opposing the lifting of the policy, issued a statement to a Maine broadcast station in response to the singer: "Senator McCain is glad Lady Gaga is involved in the legislative process, and hopes more Americans will do the same."