Thursday, July 24, 2014


I’ve missed this year’s Pride parades. I am sure Toronto’s World Pride was incredible. (New and improved, no doubt. What will they call it next? Intergalactic Pride?) I was in Vancouver during L.A. Pride and I’ll be in L.A. during Vancouver’s upcoming big event. It’s okay. I don’t even have anything rainbow in my wardrobe.


But on Tuesday I went to an honorary Pride event: Lady Gaga in concert at L.A.’s Staple Center. As we were doing shots on Saturday night, Benny casually said, “You should go with us to Gaga.” My reflex response was “No thanks.” But that’s not what came out. Apparently I say yes when I’m liquored up. (It was only my first shot. Apparently I’m that easy.)

I do like Lady Gaga. I’m just not gaga for Gaga. My concert days are pretty much over. And I’ve never been one to pick the COOL shows. It’s probably because I got off to a bad start. Air Supply was my first concert. And I LOVED it! My last two concerts were this and this. So, really, it is amazing they let me through security on Tuesday night. Sometimes a short interview is a better screen than a metal detector.

Let’s back up though. The spectacle of a Gaga show begins hours before. As I sat through a dozen lights waiting to turn left to valet park at Benny’s building right across from the Staples Center, I got to enjoy the festive pedestrians who were, incidentally, ignoring those silly lights that we motorists tried to navigate through. Heck, even the naturally courteous ones were obstructing the flow of traffic. When you aren’t accustomed to walking more than three feet in platform high heels, traversing a wide street can be an arduous journey.

From what I could tell, not one of the high heeled and/or tutu-clad folks was in drag, but most of them had tagalong boys averaging nineteen years of age. In this safe pre-concert environment, the boys weren’t trying to pass as straight. Their mannerisms were freely effeminate, their smiles beaming. This is me! No filters! I was probably the same when I was their age as I excitedly rushed to get inside for the Barry Manilow concert. (See? I was never cool.)

We missed most of the pre-show people watching. (The shots bar is also conveniently within walking distance of Benny’s place.) We knew from the previous night’s concert that our Lady would not appear until around 10 p.m. The ultimate fashion diva must, of course, put her own spin on fashionably late. I’m guessing there are last-minute wig crises every night. In the fifteen minutes we had to wait, the gays were easy to spot, almost as common as teen girls wearing outfits their fathers could not have seen them in before they left the house. Lots of skin. Even fleshy rolls. Express yourself! Oh, wait. That comes my generation’s gay music icon. Glow sticks and glam predominated. (I donned a pink shirt. And purple shoes. That’s as Proud as I get.)

To be honest, the concert underwhelmed me. I know I’m not supposed to say that. Surely, it is a sin for a gay man to be meh-meh for Gaga. The choreography seemed haphazard—find your spot and wiggle in an outrageous costume. Too many of the songs were from Artpop, Gaga’s latest album which lacks the hits and the sizzle of The Fame or even Born This Way. (I get it. This is, after all, artRAVE: The ARTPOP Ball tour, but I think at least one of the first seven songs should have been a hit and “LoveGame” and “You and I” should not have been left off the set list.)

How I feel about the concert is irrelevant. It was never aimed at an old guy who can still contentedly pass an afternoon with “Lost in Love” playing in his head.

There were highlights. “Bad Romance” proved to be the most fun song of the night. And the most Prideful moment was, of course, “Born This Way.” Lady Gaga slowed the tune down and sang it at the piano with no dancers on stage. It showcased her strong vocals and made the lyrics more poignant.

Whether life's disabilities
Left you outcast, bullied, or teased
Rejoice and love yourself today
'cause baby you were born this way.

No matter gay, straight, or bi,
Lesbian, transgendered life,
I'm on the right track baby,
I was born to survive.

I’ll admit my eyes welled up. Here was a pop icon providing validation to the nineteen-year-old boys, many who are still working through their identity in these more enlightened times. She is their Madonna whose words reflect acceptance and embolden them to go forward.

Go, Gaga! Go, boys! “Applause” is in order after all. As we paraded out, how could I not feel the Pride?


oskyldig said...

It's fine that you are not gaga for Lady Gaga. She, and her Little Monsters will forgive you ;)

Rural Gay said...

She and her Little Monsters won't even notice me! And that's as it should be.