“Born This Way”
Lady Gaga, an Italian American pop singer and a self-described Catholic, has launched her “Born This Way Ball” tour in various locations in Asia. Her itinerary, which includes Tokyo, Hong Kong, Taipei, Manila, Bangkok, and Jakarta, debuted at Seoul’s Olympic Park on April 27, 2012. While her fans hailed her with cheers, a group of conservative Korean Christians greeted her with street banners that publicly denounced her performance, having prayed that her concert would not take place in Korea.
Why did some conservative Korean Christians protest against Lady Gaga and her performance? Here are some of their reasons:
– The lyrics of her songs promote homosexuality, pornography, and a “lewd” sexual culture among young people.
– Her first visit to Korea, in 2009, ignited public demands to legitimize homosexuality in the country; since her visit, a TV drama that positively portrayed homosexuality was broadcast.
– Also since her visit in 2009, legislative efforts against LGBTQ discrimination and protecting LGBTQ rights were reinvigorated.
– Lady Gaga degrades Christianity and mocks Christians during her performances, which are among “Satan’s strategies.”
Really? Is she so influential that her earlier visit to the country changed its course of “sexual” culture and its legislative agenda? Clearly there needs to be discussion of what power and influence Western pop stars wield in Asian cities that have emerged as golden markets, particularly with regard to gendered, sexualized, raced, and classed implications of the global pop culture, including Lady Gaga’s songs and performances. Yet, what I can appreciate about Lady Gaga are her boldness, creativity, inclusiveness, and most of all, her audacity as an artist to push the boundaries, which includes challenging homophobic messages and practices of the conservative Christian establishment.
Have you listened to her song “Born This Way”? When you do, you will find that her lyrics actually affirm who you are as well as your right to love yourself regardless. The lyrics do not disapprove of the way you were born, be it your race/ethnicity, sexuality, sex/gender, and/or whether you are able-bodied or non-able-bodied. Rather, the message in her lyrics encourages you to accept and affirm who you are because you were born this way.
There’s nothin’ wrong with lovin’ who you are
She said, ’cause He made you perfect, babe
So hold your head up, girl and you’ll go far
Listen to me when I say
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, born this way
Give yourself prudence and love your friends
Subway kid, rejoice of truth
In the religion of the insecure
I must be myself, respect my youth
A different lover is not a sin
Believe capital H-I-M
I love my life, I love this record and
Mi amore vole fe yah
What is it about her lyrics that are so frightening and even threatening to the group of conservative Christians who wished to block her performance? Is it threatening to hear that the creator or God, whom she refers to as “He/HIM,” created you in “this way”? Why should a song that calls for loving oneself be condemned when interlocking forces of sexism, heterosexism, racism, ableism, and classism bring down young people and dishearten them to the point of hating, denying, and/or rejecting who they are? Why is there so much fear for loving oneself and loving one’s friends? Isn’t this message of “loving who you are” something that churches should proclaim when people are having a hard time of accepting the way they were born? How often is a girl or a woman told in church that she is “beautiful in her way”? How often are LGBTQ youths encouraged in church to love and to be proud of themselves for being who they are? Rather than praying for Lady Gaga to go away, conservative Christians should pray for the people whom the “religion of the insecure” has chased away, condemned, and denied because they are different. As the line says, “There’s nothin’ wrong with lovin’ who you are.”
*The source of the pictures is http://www.vibe.com/south-koreans-vs-lady-gaga-christians-pray-singers-concert-doesn%27t-happen