Sexuality is a sustaining force in pop culture. Singers in particular talk about, and bank on, it. Over time, however, the result of such musical endeavors is the desensitization of audiences and the gradual normalizing of certain behavior.
Lady Gaga has been storming her way up the music charts since Fall 2008. But, a self-proclaimed “bisexual,” her hits aren’t the only things rising; the essence, truth, and effects of her very identity are catapulting themselves onto the American public and world at large. Bisexuality is a recognized stratum in the LGBTQA world (hence, the “B” in LGBTQA).
However, the actions of such public figures as the “bisexual” Lady Gaga are shaping the public’s reception of a genuine identity—even when the choices executed by such public figures are disingenuous.
Lady Gaga emerged in 2008 as a woman who not only sang about bisexuality, but supposedly embodied it. Almost immediately after arriving on the mainstream music scene, Gaga came out to HX Magazine as bisexual. “I’m girl-crazy,” she clarified in an interview with Towleroad, in response to her interviewer’s question. “It really depends on where I am. I love men, I love women.”
Her second single, it came to light, is about her sexuality. “Poker Face,” verbally goes head-on with Gaga’s sexual identity. As reported by gossip blogger Perez Hilton, “Performing Sunday night at the 20th Annual White Party, Lady Gaga revealed that ‘Poker Face’ is a deep philosophical discussion of her personal experience with bisexuality. Gaga’s poker face is the one she puts on while she’s with a man but really fantasizing about a woman.”
The equality in Gaga’s shared loving of both genders dissipates, however, as she elaborates. Going on to discuss the overall theme of the song—and her songs, in general—Gaga digresses and mentions that she writes for boyfriends.
Of the song, Gaga explains, “I wanted to write a record my boyfriends would like too.”
The equality is gone, seen in the absence of her mentioning any “girlfriend.”
Gaga’s performative nature, as exemplified in the lyric writing she does for her “boyfriends,” begs the question—if she is dating males, where is the “bi” in her bisexuality? Is that, too, performative? Her token song, “Poker Face,” alludes of bisexuality, yes, but the rest of her lyrics exude heterosexual eroticism. A look at her song titles alone exhibits the predominant showing of heterosexuality. “Boys Boys Boys” and “Summerboy” are two examples. However, a closer look at the words penned by Gaga is the tool required for accurately detecting her apparent preference for males.
The imagery and code words in Lady Gaga’s songs scream of “penis!” love, and there are not even mere whisperings of “pussy” love. “I wanna take a ride on your disco stick,” declares the single “LoveGame.” “Just Dance” declares, “Can’t find my drink or man.” “Poker Face” even exclaims, “I’ll get him hard—show him what I got.” It further states, “Russian roulette is not the same without a gun, and baby when it’s love, if it’s not rough, it isn’t fun.” The parallel seems to be drawn between Russian roulette and sex, and the “gun” in question is a stand-in for “penis.” The female is not present in these songs, and, if she is, her presence is only in her absence. Her presence is only alluded to, if even that, and she is in attendance by means of a coy silence.
“Every minute of my life is performance,” Gaga simply states in an infamous video interview containing other memorable quotes. Gaga later answers the question of what she looks for in a partner with the statement, “A big dick.” When the reporter responds with, “And what else?” Lady Gaga clarifies, “That’s it.” Unless sex toys are implied, it seems Lady Gaga is only looking for men.
She even goes on to use the word “boyfriend,” evidently limiting her romantic realm to just males. “I make love to my music every day. I’m just not focused on having a boyfriend. I think it distracts you.” She elaborates on sex, saying that, “I’m really enjoying traveling the world and sleeping with really good-looking…people.” The term “people” is ambiguous and gender-neutral; however, the real force comes in how Gaga delivers the word.
Before selecting it as her expression of choice, she hesitates and stutters. When she finally does say “people,” Gaga avoids meeting the reporter’s eye by turning away from the camera—something not seen in the saucy, confident singer’s behavior up until this point. Her failure to meet her interviewer’s gaze is a common, well-known indication of lying.
Popcrunch.com even reports that Gaga’s said she has “never been in love with a woman and that her tendencies toward the same sex are purely physical in nature.” Perez Hilton reports of Gaga’s June 13, 2009, Rolling Stone cover story interview, which delves into the singer’s sexual identity. He claims that the interview touches on a “very personal topic: her sexual orientation. Gaga admits to being bisexual and that this information sometimes has negative repercussions with her boyfriends: ‘The fact that I’m into women, they’re all intimidated by it. It makes them uncomfortable.’”
Can Gaga be “into” women if she strictly keeps “boyfriends” and only has “physical” attractions to women? The lack of the emotional, and the exclusion of a space for love, with women in Gaga’s “bisexuality,” sounds alarms on the implications of bisexuality. The message conveyed is that females, ultimately, end up with males—but playing with girls is okay—just as long as you go back to your boyfriend. If sexual attraction cannot lead to love, why is there feeling at all?
What continues to be perpetuated by these subtle, undetected inferences such as Gaga’s is a stigmatized world, and heteronormative generations. Love for women (by women) is denied. It is trivialized, and promoted to something worthy of experimentation—but nothing more permanent than that.
Glamour and edge is maintained by sticking with heterosexuality, and only foraying into same-sex play. This further minimizes the already underrepresented, under-researched, largely-ignored stratum of honest bisexuals: individuals who love both men and women, are capable of such, or have done so.
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines bisexual as “sexual desire toward both sexes;” however, I see honest bisexuality as going beyond sex. If sex can be carried out habitually with a specific gender, doesn’t that signal the potential for deeper feelings? It should.
In using “bisexuality” as a toy to further glitter-ize her image, Lady Gaga is making a mockery of sexual identity. If attraction is physical, and not emotional, can the label “bisexual” be used? If she is unable to develop any further feelings for women, then why not call her flirtations “kink” or “a phase,” in all honesty? For, if she cannot pursue the path of bisexuality as a way of life, it is not a committed “duality” as inferred by the “bi” in “bisexuality.” Lady Gaga’s bisexuality can be given a new label: Bazooka Bisexuality. On one hand, Bazooka is known as bubble-gum. On the other hand, it is a loaded weapon.