Forgive my first column as Opinions Editor for being very personal. I normally don’t operate this way, but I prefer openness and honesty in my writing.

Like pretty much every other person aged 15-30, I spent Sunday, Aug. 28 watching the MTV Video Music Awards.

I’m not exactly a fan of any of the artists who seem to come and go from the VMAs on a yearly basis.

I watch it more out of the fact that it’s a pop culture event and I’m into that. Like all of Twitter, I was excited to see what Lady Gaga would be wearing or doing in her performance.

While my opinion of Gaga is complicated, I knew she would be entertaining to say the least. Shock does not begin to describe the feeling when she appeared on stage as her male alter ego, Joe Calderone.

Lady Gaga has often spoken out in favor of gay rights and is a known bisexual. While I admire her work for the causes she believes in, there was something unsavory about her male alter ego being at the forefront of her performance.

As someone who has struggled with gender identity, I can’t begin to describe the personal anguish brought on by questioning which gender you truly are.

Deciding to live as the opposite gender is no easy decision and much like being gay, it comes with a constant fight for acceptance.

Becoming a man is something I have been working toward for the last couple of years. I found Lady Gaga’s Joe Calderone to be a mockery of everything I have been working toward.

There are those who believe that there is no such thing as bad publicity; Lady Gaga’s decision to adopt the alter ego can only help transgendered individuals gain acceptance.

Readers may question my condemnation of Lady Gaga’s behavior, especially since she has become something of a gay icon in the last few years.

The simple fact is, Lady Gaga is gaining notoriety, wealth, and influence on the backs of individuals who have fought for acceptance their entire lives. She is turning their personal battles into her own personal stepping stool.

For those of us who constantly hear the refrain “It’s just a phase,” or “You’re just trying to get attention,” Lady Gaga’s random decision will only hurt us in the long run.

While I am trying to be taken seriously as a male by my peers, there is someone at the forefront of American culture dressing as a male only to create a media firestorm.

While I understand entertainment is entertainment Lady Gaga’s controversial decision was an opportunity for growth. Unfortunately, she didn’t take her alter-ego and use it as a way to educate those watching. Seeing as Lady Gaga herself has been the target of plenty of sexual mockery, it was rather stunning.

She is someone who has been accused of being a man more than once, whose actions and outfits have caused tremendous public outcry.

Most importantly, an artist of her calibur whose music often sends the message of tolerance and acceptance of sexual relations could have done a better job of placing herself in the shoes of those who do chose to change genders.

There was no mention of the pain of the decision to become the opposite gender, no mention of the struggle for acceptance by transgender individuals, not even a mention of her own struggle with gender identity or the pain of being accused of being a male- just a woman, dressing as a man, so she makes every morning news outlet with her “outrageous” and “shocking” behavior at the VMAs.


Chelsea Mellin can be reached at



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