Lady Gaga is finally coming to Louisville on March 12, 2011 at the new KFC Yum! Center, but what does that mean (other than a fun concert)? Lady Gaga is at the forefront of gay rights activism and recently joined U.S. Senator Harry Reid in suggesting the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." (See video of her her speech at the end of this post.)
Will Lady Gaga's arrival bring out a horde of monsters? Will it bring more awareness to how Louisville views and accepts her homosexual community?
Even though Louisville has a large gay community, there have been some hate crimes during pride festivals and even in 2010 there are groups that exist to "cure" homosexuality. A surge in suicides nationwide recently has brought anti-gay bullying amongst our youth to the forefront of public attention. As some groups push to have schools include anti-gay bullying in their anti-bully policies, some conservative groups state that this is just a slick method to push pro-homosexual propaganda.
While Lady Gaga is supportive of the homosexual lifestyle, other public figures do not try to hide opposing opinions, including recording artist 50 Cent who posted the following update to Twitter: "If you a man and your [sic] over 25 and you don't eat pu**y just kill your self damn it. The world will be a better place.Lol." Another tweet read "Perez Hilton called me a douchebag so I had my homie shoot up a gay wedding. Wasn't his but still made me feel better." After becoming a target for homosexual groups' outrage, the artist has since deleted his tweets.
Exodus, International, who failed to respond to questions from Louisville.com, is one such group that offers support, resources, living and counseling to homosexuals who are enrolled in its program to seek "healing" through Jesus. It has been accused of bribing people to change orientation and supported an annual Day of Truth to encourage Christian youth to engage homosexuals in conversation. Some people fear that this is what may have led to harassment of young homosexuals, resulting in suicides.
Exodus, International withrdrew its participation from the "Day of Truth” last week, stating in its press release that it does not need one day per year to try to engage others and that it was not serving its intent to compassionately approach youth tempted by homosexuality, but that it should be doing that every day.
Keith Brooks is co-coordinator of the Fairness Campaign, a gay rights and awareness group that was recently voted Louisville's number one non-profit in the LEO Reader's Choice awards. He says that the Fairness Campaign has been working with allies and community leaders, including the Louisville Youth Group (a social group for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender teens) to host a community forum on Oct. 15 at the Metro United Way, addressing the recent suicides and the anti-gay bullying that many kids face every day.
"The forum will be a solutions-based one and all are encouraged to attend. Unfortunately, many of these cases are severely underreported; we've taken time to inform others of this through the media and our own channels and the necessity for statewide and federal anti-bullying laws."
Brooks further says that Lady Gaga has gained attention for being an advocate for GLBT rights and sexual freedom and hopes that her continued momentum will continue and motivate people to get involved with some of the things they are working on locally, such as achieving statewide protections for our GLBT citizens.
"[Louisville] is a world class, progressive and hospitable city that has always been at the forefront of welcoming others, especially gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people. Although much work has to be done around the state in terms of ensuring equality for all of our GLBT citizens, I think her presence can only help spotlight the enriching and diverse atmosphere we strive to create all over Kentucky and that GLBT people are part of that, just like every other group here."
Fan Gunnar Deatherage hopes to see Gaga's arrival bring more awareness of GLBT issues to Louisville and is so appreciative of her efforts in the cause that he entered a meat dress contest for a chance to win tickets, hosted by radio station KISS 98.9.
"I would love to see this bring some awareness that there are so many homosexuals in the area, and that we don't bite. We are normal humans, living normal lives, just as the rest of the population does. Do I think it will make a huge impact? Probably not a ton, but one mind changed is better than none... I believe in Lady Gaga and what she stands for. She stands for the underdog, the select group that was in dire need of a spokesperson, someone to raise awareness of bullying, tolerance, and pride. I entered this meat contest, for two reasons: I believe in her reason for wearing it: 'If we don’t start standing up for what we believe in, everyone is going to start picking the meat off of our bones.' I also need this opportunity to tell her how much she has influenced me, inspired me, and how much I admire her courage to get up and be the monster she is ! Long Live GAGA."
Photo courtesy of Gunnar Deatherage, his meat boots for the contest hosted by KISS 98.9