Monday, March 28, 2011

Born What Way: Where was my Lady Gaga for the 80s and 90s?

-Express Yourself, don't repress yourself.
-Free Your Mind, and the rest will follow.
-Hear the younger generation ask, why do I feel this way, promise of a new day.
-A generation full of courage, come forth with me, are we looking for a better way of life.

If you haven't figured out where each of these lyrics have come from, then you are not a true child of pop culture, or the 80's and 90's. For those who are left in the dark, the answers respectively are Madonna, En Vogue, Paula Abdul, and Janet Jackson. These women opened a dialogue that transcended gender but ones that enveloped race along with it. Now we can argue left and right about who is more of a minority, I am women hear me roar, I am gay and proud, I am black and beautiful, call it what you want, we are all in one struggle. The struggle of equality!

At a very young age I was called a fag. It came from the least likely place one would suspect... family. My cousin felt it was necessary to point out at all times that I was different, that I acted like a girl, that I was more effeminate than masculine. Little did he know, calling me a fag meant nothing. Frankly put, I didn't know what it meant. I just knew it was bad.

Age 11, there I was watching television with my best friend. He spent the night on the weekends, we would play Nintendo, ride our bikes, and play with the local kids. The glowing of the television filled the room and then as we were chatting, the word GAY permeated the room. Newsflash, a priest had molested a child. That part I didn't think twice about. The part that infiltrated my brain was the word gay. Turning to my friend, I asked, "What does gay mean?" Was I prepared to take in this knowledge? Does he even know what I am talking about? His answer was simple, "It is when a guy likes a guy." Honest, simple, that easy... when a guy likes a guy. He proceeded to tell me that what my cousin calls me, fag, it is the same thing, but meaner. Yes, meaner.

Shame set in. Learning the definition of what I had been called for so many years, caused shame and disgust of myself to set in. The next few years kept me fascinated by the word gay. Even though I thought it was bad, I delved into the idea. I knew I was gay, but I dated girls.

Fast forward 2011, "I'm beautiful in my way, 'cause God makes no mistakes, I'm on the right track baby, I was born this way. Don't hide yourself in regret, Just love yourself, and you're set, I'm on the right track baby, I was born this way." Age 11, I didn't have Lady Gaga or any gay male role model to tell me don't have any shame in being who you are. If there were people, I wasn't exposed to them. Yeah, we had the songs aforementioned earlier, but they were geared towards women liberating their sexuality. I am not a woman. I had to forge my own path. Fight the struggles on my own, learn that being me is more than just fine.

Lets face it, this generation of youth has it easy. They have these role models, whether a commoditized pop figure or song, they have them. And, with all  the social media outlets, people can form a community of support. The 80's and 90's might have been a time of race relations and gender identities, but I believe that now, right now, we are at a culmination of events. We, as a community, have everything at our disposal, and we must use it to showcase ourselves as who we are. Normal human beings seeking equality for all. Maybe you and I didn't have a song to tell us all of this, but the point is that it is here, NOW. What will we do with it?


  1. I like this. It's one of my favorites you've posted. =)