If Lady Gaga has proven anything over the course of her star-dazzled career, it’s that she understands the importance of rising to the occasion.
Recall her blood-spattered 2009 MTV Video Music Awards performance which made a Mo Brothers-esque statement on the world's paparazzi. Or her insanely excellent spiking of a football at the end of a wickedly subversive Super Bowl LI performance.
So, even if you didn't know the backstory, it wasn't reading too much into things to suggest that Lady Gaga arrived at today’s U.S. presidential inauguration for Joe Biden determined to do something more than just stand there and sing “The Star-Spangled Banner”.
Viewers got a statement that maybe, just maybe, despite all of the misery, division, hate, intolerance, and general heinousness of the past four years, America still endures. That was captured best in one single moment. When it came time to take flight on the line “The flag was still there”, Gaga turned from the cameras and lovingly looked at the stars and stripes. It was like she’d just spotted the most beautiful sight on the planet.
The message was as clear as it was important: America has been attacked, but America has endured.
And just as importantly, from her megawatt smile to a drama-drenched delivery that was as impassioned as it was boldly confident, Lady Gaga projected the air of someone thrilled to be there.
Not as a Democrat, a pop-star, or as a member of the obscenely-blessed 1 percent club, but as compassionate and geniunenly decent human being. A human being who, from her tireless LGBTQ work to her mental health work with her Born This Way foundation, has always believed in light after the darkness.
Her being tapped for the honour wasn’t an accident any more than Jennifer Lopez showing up to send a message to America’s Latino population. Or Garth Brooks making appearance for some bridge-building to the red meat eaters of Middle America.
The multi-platinum singer campaigned hard for Biden in the 2020 election, including a last-minute stand in Pennsylvania that might very well have helped flip the state blue.
But stop and think about why Gaga being there was really important.
One of the many fundamentally wrong wars waged by Trump was on entrenched protections for sexual orientation and gender identity. One of his administration's first policy shifts was rescinding President Barack Obama’s transgender student guidance policy.
That was followed by a tweet in July of 2017 where Trump announced that transgender people could no longer serve in the military. And shifts in everything from the way government agencies housed transgender people at homeless shelters to the way the LGBTQ community was treated at places of work.
As for bullying and the lasting scars it causes from a mental health perspective, if Trump’s Tweets didn’t say anything, his defense of the Charlotte tiki-torch brigade and the Capitol Hill rioters did. If you weren’t wearing a red MAGA hat in Trump's America, you were one of THEM.
And that made you instantly hateable.
Gaga's ready-for-Broadway performance sent a message to every person who's ever felt marginalized in America: the Biden team is here, and it's on your side.
A message that, importantly from a healing perspective, those who somehow think differently from you, are not the enemy.
If you were paying attention—and even if you weren’t—you might have noticed Gaga wearing a massive gold broach of a dove with an olive branch.
She didn’t arrive ready to fight. She arrived already having bought into the Biden message that it’s time to heal.
And that, despite what the likes of Trump-approved “celebrities” like James Woods and Scott Baio might otherwise argue—that we all need to feel welcome to the party, Because we are truly all in this together.
In case someone missed the point, Gaga took to Twitter later with this: “A dove carrying an olive branch. May we all make peace with each other.”
Preceded by this earlier Tweet: “My intention is to acknowledge our past, be healing for our present, and passionate for a future where we work together lovingly. I will sing to the hearts of all people who live on this land. Respectfully and kindly, Lady Gaga.”
Message delivered and understood. And respect for not only understanding the importance of the occasion, but more than rising to it. Again.