Photo courtesy of btwfoundation.tumblr.com/
For months, we’ve been hurting our asses by sitting on the edges of our seats in anticipation. No one knew what to expect at the BORN THIS WAY FOUNDATION launch event Wednesday at Harvard. Most pertinently, we wanted to know if LADY GAGA would sing. I was not inside the Sanders Theatre during the launch, but I can't find anything on YouTube that leads me to believe she did, in fact, sing. Drag.
Gaga did announce that the BTWF intends to “challenge meanness and cruelty by inspiring young people to create a support system in their respective communities,” and to “inject love and acceptance and tolerance into culture.” Then she mostly fielded softball questions from HOLY FRICKIN' OPRAH and a panel of learned types who didn’t always seem to be taking the situation seriously (Especially Deepak Chopra, whose question for Gaga, "Do you think it's possible to move in the direction of a peaceful, just, sustainable, healthy, and happier world, and if so, what would it take?" makes you wonder if he had any idea what the BTWF is or what he was doing there).
Long story short, Lady Gaga, a famous singer, thinks kids should be nicer to each other. Groovy. But it would’ve been groovier to hear something akin to some specific plans of action instead of nebulous hippie speak about “love” and “acceptance” and “tolerance” and so on. DAN SAVAGE almost certainly helped tons of people with the It Gets Better Project in 2010. He probably didn’t spend much (if any) money, he's way less famous than Gaga, and he certainly never patted himself on the back this much. Just throwing that out there.
The scene outside Sanders wasn’t much more productive. Despite the totally gross commixture of wet snow and wind-chill, a crowd of about 40 huddled on either side of the driveway leading into the theatre. 66 percent of the gathering hoped to glimpse either Gaga or Oprah (both were visible for a few seconds between dashes from their vehicles to the indoors). 33 percent were media either culling time-and-space-fillers off colorful diehard Gaga fans, or (like me) following up on a press release hyping a planned protest. To summarize that protest here, I’ll transcribe a conversation I picked up accidentally by putting my recorder in my pocket without turning it off. This happened a bit after 4 pm.
RANDOM GUY: We heard there was going to be a protest or something. Did you hear there was going to be anything like that?
ME: The protest already happened.
GUY: When was that?
ME: Oh, like 3:30.
GUY: Oh, really?
ME: It lasted about five minutes. It was over there. It was legitimately, like, I think, maybe five-or-six people.
GUY: What were they protesting?
ME: Basically, in 1920 they had a secret court that sought out and expelled anybody they thought was gay from Harvard. Witch-hunty type deal.
GUY: And that was at 3:30? How long were they over here, do you know?
ME: They got here at, like, 3.
GUY: So they weren’t here that long?
ME: No, not really. Why, did you come here for that?
GUY: Not really. I guess. I don’t know.
ME: (noticing the business card visible in the side-pocket of Random Dude’s backpack) Oh, wow, you’re with (a major daily newspaper I shouldn’t name because neither of us knew I recorded this conversation)?
“I saw her earlier,” said a Gaga fan named Pat who rocked a totally awesome Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles backpack. “It was pretty cool. I don’t know how to explain it. It was one of those adrenaline rushes. There was a huge crowd around her. I couldn’t really see her because I’m kind of short. I just saw the top of her head. But it was pretty awesome.”
Added Dylan, a nearby fellow with a red faux-hawk and James Dean leather jacket, “I expect that in the years to come, the Born This Way Foundation is going to be really big. Right now, a lot of people don’t know about it or take it seriously because it’s just starting out. I feel like after this event, a couple years down the road, after they do more events, it’s going to be a really big foundation.”
Hopefully Dylan's right, and there's nothing wrong with a little celebrity hero worship. But to do that, the BTWF will have to evolve beyond an instance of a famous person asking the same questions anyone with any sense has already asked.