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Commentary | Maine Life | Politics | Tuesday, September 21st, 2010, 9:20 pm

Crowdspotting with Lady Gaga at Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell rally in Portland

Kevin Brooks | Maine Observer
Lady Gaga's politics and "Hilary Clinton-ian" suit weren't the only things on display Monday

Lady Gaga’s visit to Portland was as fabulous and moving as one might have imagined it would be. Adorn in a striking, black, mid-90s Hilary Clinton-ian power suit, Gaga delivered her powerful “Prime Rib Speech,” which you have likely already consumed (Ha) via one source or another.

I spoke with Cecil Marlique, a self-identified queer 18-year-old who felt inspired and uplifted by Gaga’s presence in the city and representation of the cause. I heard a very similar sentiment from Brett Faulkner, a young man who I saw preform a routine to Gaga’s mega-hit Alejendro under the stage-name “90 Minute Blonde” at the Dirty Dishes Burlesque Review a couple of days back. And I talked with Brian Cyr, a former soldier who faced a military discharge he claims was related to his sexuality a year before Don’t Ask Don’t Tell was enacted.

However, and not to undermine any of the powerful content of the DADT rally in Deering Oaks Park, other stray observations offered themselves to the astute (and not-so-astute) observer. These include, but are not limited to:

  • At rallies highlighting celebrities who have rabid fan-bases labeled with a particular moniker – let’s say “little monsters” – you can expect to hear elected representative dropping said moniker approximately every 30 seconds (presumably as a means of resonating with “The Kids.”) Hearing Mayor Nick Mavodones, who was, by the way, particularly eloquent and direct in his denunciation of DADT, stuff LM into his prepared remarks felt about as natural as that time President Obama referred to ass-kicking, or when Ahmadinejad wears something other than a Members-Only jacket.
  • Terry Richardson – who was presumably at the event in the role of documentarian – is not nearly as creepy as I expected him to be. In fact, despite many, many allegations of being a sexually aggressive letch, his hands were smooth (not sticky), his handshake firm (not molester-y), and his manner polite and sincere. Further, in my brief interaction with him, he was warm in a way that one would think impossible of someone as seemingly close with Vincent “I’ll sell my sperm to Jews because it ups their chances in the entertainment industry” Gallo would appear to be.
  • At every single rally – every. single. rally. – no matter the cause (well, maybe not anything Tea Party related), there is a topless (or nearly) topless young woman and a young man who’s naked body is provocatively wrapped in something – often caution tape – to prove some point. Yesterday was no exception. It is worth asking, dear readers, what is an adult, particularly the most evil kind of adult in the world (white, straight, 20ish men) to do in these situations? Do we look at the intentional attention grabber, or do we politely look beyond it out of fear that any stare might be misinterpreted by said exhibitionist or the line of police next to him/her? I am all for the queering of straight, white male society, just so long as coming along for the ride does not land this passenger in jail.
  • Ninety-five percent of crowds comprised mostly of people under 25 don’t know most/all of the words to the national anthem.
  • Hometown hero Bunny Wonderland was not kidding when he suggested that drag queens fart glitter. If you are at a rally at which the queen quotient increases by 5000% as compared to what is typical for the geography in which it is held, there will be signs fashioned out of posterboard and glitter. We’re here. We’re queer. Glitter is everywhere.

It goes without saying Lady Gaga – a flesh and blood Madonna / Marilyn Manson mashup – embodies a substantial piece of the gender/sexuality cause. A brief discussion with the aforementioned Mr. Cyr led to his drawing of this conclusion: If you’re a teenager and you attend a rally to see Gaga and not necessarily “the cause,” it doesn’t matter. She is the cause, which is to suggest that whether or not kids are well versed in equality issues and legislation – and a lot of those who were present were – doesn’t particularly matter. The fact that kids are idolizing a queer icon who has baked into her popularity a queer aesthetic is itself powerful.

So just remember, the next time you hope to “ra ra roma ma ma” for the cause little monsters (shudder), take off your clothes, put on your glitter, and consider impressing your friends by learning the National Anthem (“Wow. You memorized all of that?”). Queer the system by demanding your prime rib with a undeniable fabulousness, and – should he be present – admire Terry Richardson from afar, for safety’s sake.

Alex Steed is a teacher, activist, consultant, and an unabashed pop culture junkie. He can be reached on Twitter @AlexSteed and by email

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