Bil Browning

Comment of the Week: redball

Filed By Bil Browning | February 13, 2011 7:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Site News
Tags: Lady Gaga, LGBT media, redball, Target

From Alex's critique of Lady Gaga's new single, "Born This Way," and the special deal the singer struck with Target, comes this comment from Projector redball. When did you discover the LGBT blogosphere? commentofweek1.pngWhere did you get the bulk of your queer news and opinion? Do you share your sources with your friends? If so, how?

Excellent critique. I disagree with one passage, where you write:

"I don't expect Lady Gaga to care about all this, but there were lots of orgs and LGBT people calling for a boycott of Target and I would expect people who generally keep up with the queer news to have a vague recollection of these events."

My issue is that very few non-queer people, and even many queer people, do not keep up with LGBT news sources. I am 29 and although I came out of the closet at age 19, I only discovered online LGBT news blogs at the age of 26. My relatively late discovery was not due to lack of interest. There was simply no one in my social circle discussing these sources and I was completely ignorant that they even existed. For many, many years, my only LGBT news source was the hard-copy publication, Bay Windows (I live in Boston). It was only when I met my current boyfriend at age 26 that I discovered all these interesting online gay media outlets, because he follows them on a daily basis.

What I'm saying is, I think it's quite unfair to bash Gaga over a news item that many gays and non-gays are completely unaware of. Not everyone reads special-interest news blogs. It's quite easy to be openly gay or openly gay-supporting and yet not know about or read these blogs or other LGBT media outlets.

My guess is that Gaga had little to no idea about Target's record and that, had someone informed her of the corporate fuckery, she would've made different choices.

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in my case, discovering the lgbt blogosphere was primarily word of mouth,
i had never heard of bilerico until stumbling on it a year or so ago, while searching for marriage legislation info and then shared it with my friends
who, let me know of sites they like

the whole target issue has not been in mainstream media, in as much detail or coverage, and I can see Gaga possibly missing it

Wow. I hadn't seen that comment. My guess is that Ms. Gaga didn't sit down with Mr. Target one day and draw up a contract over scones and tea with Ms. Gaga not knowing Mr. Target's history, that there were instead dozens of lawyers, accountants, PR people (the folks paid to know this stuff), and agents on both sides discussing this deal for months, and someone would have mentioned this huge story, which was in mainstream news and legal news and progressive news and even on Target's wikipedia page.

I could be wrong, though. There are lots of high-paid people who are just plain dumb (or lazy and dumb) and might have missed this one. I keep on making the mistake of assuming that professionals are competent at their jobs.

Anyway, if she doesn't know about it, then maybe she shouldn't use gay rights to build her brand. I don't think you can be all "I really care about gay rights and am passionate about this topic so buy my records" one day and "Oops, I just don't read LGBT news at all so how was I supposed to know?" the next.

I think the 'Comment of the Week' is so wrong. Gaga has tons of queer people surrounding her at literally every creative level (and probably business level too). You're telling me none of those people know what's going on in queer activism? None of them knew what happened with the Target Corp. donation? Don't buy it. And if they do know, then none of them are able to say something to Gaga for fear of upsetting their money machine? If that's how it is then screw her.

I also want to say that, for someone who's "so connected to the LGBT community" she doesn't even know how "transgendered" (which is what she uses in the song) is considered an incorrect usage in by those in the trans community. Anyone with any real connection to that community would have pointed it out to her.

My guess is Target is cynically using this connection with Gaga to try and 'make nice' with their gays.

Excellent commentary.

And it gave me a new catch-phrase: corporate fuckery. I'm going to use it in as many sentences as possible.

What a great use of words.

John Rutledge | February 14, 2011 10:17 AM

So what is the correct way now to refer to someone in the trans community? Sorry, I don't know either, and I am a daily Bilerico reader. As for the blog community, I came out late in life at 45. It was 5 years before I knew of Bilerico, and I attend a large MCC church in Richmond where there are a lot of informed LGBT. No one there ever mentioned any LGBT news sources or blogs. I stumbled on Bilerico on my own. The point is, it is very easy to be an out and informed - you think- individual and still be clueless. I do see so much wrong-making in the gay community. Some folks need to chill a bit and start treating each other like Family a bit more, but then again, maybe that's what this wrong-making is doing. I guess many of us grew up being made wrong so we can't help keeping with family tradition.

Trans persons trans man, trans woman (most trans people prefer a space between trans and the noun)... when in doubt, just say 'trans' (as in... he's 'trans'... she's trans or, if they're genderqueer... 'they're trans).

John, I totally hear you about coming out late and feeling disconnected from the gay community... especially in Richmond, VA. But GaGa is in her 20s, is surrounded with very plugged in gay/queer people who she intimately works with every day and lives in NYC. Moreover, she has people whose business it is to make certain her business is done right. You and she are really in very different circumstances.

The controversy with Target's donation in Minnesota was in Huffington Post, The NY Times, every gay/queer blog site and on broadcast media... it wasn't some obscure piece of info. My guess is also that the corporation she's employed by might have had something to do with the Target linkup... Alex's question was, why isn't she concerned about being linked to a corporation which directly shafted her original core audience and, moreover, never made restitution for doing so after it admitted said shaft.

The notable absence of equivalent criticism of Ricky Martin for his exclusive marketing deal with Target makes it painfully clear that gay and lesbian criticisms of Lady Gaga are largely driven by rampant biphobia. Biphobia is especially evident in the constant questioning of Lady Gaga's legitimacy and credibility within the queer community -- treating Lady Gaga as if she was a straight ally of dubious authenticity is yet another reiteration of the idea that bisexuality "isn't real".

this may be slightly off topic, but with regard to the Target boycott:

(at least here in Los Angeles) Target is one of the few retail establishments in the area which hires "visibly trans/gender variant" people.

It is a difficult call when looking at boycotts, since for many trans folk there just aren't that many job opportunities. To have a large company so visibly supportive of trans community is important.

Just to add that to the discussion - not to take a position on the boycott.

Desiree, perhaps a more apt issue is what might be called: Bi-appropriativeness... in other words, straight people claiming to be bi so they get props for being in the queer community. I think there are a lot of hipsters doing this without any sign they've ever been in a same sex relationship. (and no, I don't think someone HAS to have physical same sex encounters to be queer) but you also don't get to be part of an oppressed minority like it's going to a designer boutique.

I also note that, when GaGa first came out, before there were rumors about her being Intersex, there were a lot of rumors about her being trans and she denied those rumors by saying "I really am a lady". Okay GaGa, so what you're saying is... trans women aren't? She also said, in reference to the trans question, "underneath this, I'm really a nice girl inside"... which is fine but, by denial, it's objectifying trans women into some trashy cartoon. She also DID have some early interviews where she was trying to suggest she was, in some way, Intersex which, when some people picked up on it, she dropped like a hot potato. She exploits a lot of queer/trans imagery to sell her act.

Frankly, the idea that someone would falsely identify with a massively oppressed subaltern group just for shits and giggles is ridiculous to the point of being offensive. Especially since you're extending it into an argument that self-identified bisexuals need to be policed for validity.

Consider the fact that there is no sign that Ricky Martin has ever been involved in a same-sex relationship and yet no one ever questions if he's "really" gay the way you are questioning whether or not Lady Gaga is "really" bi. Hell, Martin has *repeatedly, explicitly* denied being gay in the past; if we honestly thought that sexual orientation "should" be subject to policing, we would be asking whether or not his coming out of the closet is merely an attempt to get fifteen minutes of fame for the sake of marketing his new album. Which, by the way, is *Target exclusive*.

"I also note that, when GaGa first came out, before there were rumors about her being Intersex, there were a lot of rumors about her being trans and she denied those rumors by saying "I really am a lady". "

Yes, and back when he was in the closet Ricky Martin insisted on national TV that he was a "normal man", not gay. His implying that gays are abnormal is just as bad as Gaga implying that trans women aren't ladies. But you're falling over yourself to give him a pass on that because he's gay.

@Desiree Renee Arceneaux:

Who said I give him a pass on anything? Gay media largely gave him a pass. We're talking about GaGa and you're injecting this entire theme into the thread which wasn't even there. I give a shit whether she is or isn't bi... what I do care about is someone who makes money off of queer/trans people who then makes a profit-making association with a corporation who donated to a politician who supported the oppression of queer people. I find assigning an innocent ignorance to her actions and ignoring the large profit motive is a HUGE PASS.

Ricky Martin didn't do that... honestly, I don't care about Ricky Martin so big time derail on your part.

Ricky Martin is not a derail because Ricky Martin is doing exactly the same thing as Lady Gaga. Ricky Martin has made a tremendous amount of money off of queer / trans people -- even before he came out of the closet, gay men were his primary fanbase -- and then signed an exclusive contract with Target for his new album.

Well, then, I stand corrected, he should be criticized for it as well. I don't follow his career so I wasn't on top of that. Screw Ricky.