Amy Andre

Dear Advocate, That's No Way to Treat a Lady

Filed By Amy Andre | July 10, 2011 5:30 PM | comments

Filed in: Entertainment, Media
Tags: biphobia, bisexual, celebrity gossip, Lady Gaga, The Advocate

Lady Gaga is bi. She has been out for quite a while. Anyone can discover this through a simple Google search. I can't imagine that The Advocate's journalists don't have access to Google. Why, then, did The Advocate ask her, in a recent interview, how she identifies?415px-Lady_Gaga_Europride_2011_03.jpg

The mutual love affair between Gaga and her intensely devoted -- and largely gay -- disciples has come into the conversation... Her connection to her fans goes deeper, to the point of identification. She says she is one of them. Though she's recently ended an on-off relationship with musician Luc Carl, Gaga has discussed her attraction to other women in the past. As to whether she also considers herself an actual member of the LGBT community -- "yes" is her response... "The b letter," Gaga answers.

One stereotype about bisexuals is that our bisexuality is a phase, and that later, we'll come out as something else. In fact, research shows the opposite; monosexuality is more likely to be a phase than bisexuality. Think, for example, of all the people you know who once identified as straight and now identify as gay or lesbian. Obviously, their use of the term "straight" to identify themselves was a phase.

(By the way, there's nothing wrong with phases. For some people, sexuality and sexual identity change over time. That's both common and normal. I'm not trying to be phase-phobic here. My beef is with the assumption that bisexuality is always and only a phase.)

Did The Advocate think that Lady Gaga had been in a bi phase, and was now potentially identifying as something else, and so they just had to check?

Another stereotype about bisexuals is that we don't exist. As a result of this stereotype, many bisexuals are forced to come out over and over again, even in the same context (for example, when being interviewed). Is it possible that, even though Lady Gaga has already said she's bi, The Advocate just couldn't believe it until they heard it for themselves? That's no way to treat a Lady. Not only is it biphobic, but it's just plain bad manners. Would The Advocate ask Neil Patrick Harris if he's gay, even if he had already come out? Would they ask Ellen if she's a lesbian?

I'm going to guess that the answers are "no" and "no". So then why should any bisexual celebrity - or any bisexual person, period - be treated differently? Why should we have to prove who we are and that we are still who we said we were last time we were asked?

My hope for The Advocate is that the next time they interview someone who has already come out, they just skip ahead to the next question.

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Didn't we already read this article ? Given Lady Gaga's public persona, it's very easy to not take her seriously. Pop stars use a hint of bisexuality (specifically lesbianism) to titilate and get publicity. It's not unfair to ask her to clarify. If a male celebrity came out as gay, but then dated women and talked exclusively of female ex-lovers, I think someone would ask him the deal. And quite frankly, saying "Yes, I'm the b letter" isn't exactly my definition of a strong declaration of pride in one's sexuality. Can we stop with the Lady Gaga articles, now? Is it fair for you to gin up outrage using her name just to get hits for your articles?

Alleging that anyone is using their sexual identity as a means to attract attention or gain fame is a way to invalidate identity. There is no queer membership card and it's not up to you, me, or anyone else to police. Even Katy-Perry-I-Kissed-a-Girl-style "barsexual"-ism can be a path to an authentic and very queer life. It's time for people to stop policing other people's identities.

Your allegations that the author used Gaga's name to get hits are nothing more than allegations. As Amy Andre pointed out, Gaga has already come out - more than once. This refusal to acknowledge or recognize Lady Gaga's queerness is a form of biphobia. And as long as there is biphobia towards others, we're going to keep calling people out on it.

It may feel to you like there's no need for another article on this topic, but your comment is an example of why we have to keep writing. Until people come to a greater understanding about bisexuality, you are going to keep seeing these articles in your news feed. Want to read fewer posts like this one? Great! Don't perpetuate stereotypes. Join us in the campaign for understanding.

I tend to agree. While I'm relatively "straight," I do appreciate the authenticity of others' sexual preferences. I do see people assuming all the things mentioned in this article as well, and I can imagine how frustrating that must be. However, I don't think being asked to clarify what she's already said (or even to restate it)is necessarily questioning the authenticity of her sexuality or even just her claim of sexuality. It's not like the article said "C'mon, bisexuality's not really an orientation; which do you really like? Men or women?" THAT would be overt and offensive. And I'm sure if the authenticity of my orientation were what was in question I might be a little more sensitive about it, but I simply can't see a real offense in this situation as it's presented here.

Om Kalthoum | July 10, 2011 8:11 PM

Well, slap me silly for even posting on a Lady Gaga topic, but....

When she supposedly came out in a Rolling Stone article two years ago, we got this:

She tells Hiatt she's bisexual, but her attraction to women is purely physical. It's an aspect of her sexuality that makes boyfriends "uncomfortable," she says.

Is that what bisexual means? So if I were one of those folks who was all breathless about everything Gaga, I guess I would like some reporter or someone to ask her for a little clarification. Honestly, I don't know the first thing about her. Has any woman ever been linked with her?

Yeah, sorry, but that Advocate article was a pure puff piece, and ironically, it seemed to reveal just how unbelievable her identification as part of the LGBT community is. Her response is a drawn out yes? A giggled admission that she's "the b"?

What's really interesting is her statement that if you raise questions about her sincerity, then you're not really serious about fighting for gay rights.

All or nothing. Criticize Gaga, you're not really for gay rights. That's the line, according to her.

And yeah, "bisexual" doesn't seem to be defined as "only physically attracted to the same sex, but emotionally and physically attracted exclusively to the opposite sex". Christina Aguilara said the same, but at least had the sense to define that as not being "true" bisexuality. It looks like Gaga's only using her "purely physical female-female attraction" as entree into our community (if she's even being honest), and quite frankly, it's a slap in the face to actual bisexuals. Disgusting.

Give me a straight ally who isn't lying over that garbage any day.

LadyWarhol | July 10, 2011 8:46 PM

I don't think that to be BI you need to like both physically and emotional. I'm Bi and I like man they're hot I find myself very attractive to them But I can't seem to like them in a emotional/romantic way. I don't think that makes me a lesbian, if I was a lesbian I couldn't even fell that sexual appealing to man in the first place.
Just saying

I think there is a big difference here between questioning a person's identity/sexual orientation and questioning their motivations behind their public support for gay rights.

Questioning the sexual orientation of anyone who identifies as bi, including a celebrity, is at best rude and at worse biphobic. These are personal matters, irregardless of the person in question.

However, questioning the motivation of a celebrities who claim to support equal rights is another matter. One can make the case that this is healthy and should be don whenever possible. In short I see nothing wrong with questioning Gaga's motivations for calling for equal rights as a matter of due process, although I personally think she is putting on quiet the show and doing a lot of good in the process. But this is just my opinion.

LadyWarhol | July 10, 2011 8:41 PM

No,she hasn't been linked to any woman.
Still there was an interview where they asked her about the meaning of 'Poker Face' wich she said that was about fantasizing about woman while being with her ex-boyfriend.
With that she also said that she likes womans but never liked them in a romantic way. Also the interviewer asked right away if she ever had sex with any first she got kinda shy and blushed a little bit and after awhile said that yes,she already had sex relationships with woman.

Just because she never liked woman in a romantic way doesn't mean she is straight...if she were in my opinion she wouldn't even fell sexual attracted to woman. Also she might primally like man.

As a Bi woman that primally likes womans I find if kinda frustrating when I need to remind people that I'm Bi and not a Lesbian or when I need to tell explain them that sometimes I get 'closer' to a man in a physic way NOT because I can't get any woman but because I like man physicla altought I can't actually develop any romantic feeling toward least now. Maybe that's kinda what happens to her.

I think the Advocate asked her that because even tough she already come out they wanted to make it clear because there's a lot of doubts about it OR maybe because they find it weird that until know she isn't linked with any woman. Wich in my opinion is kinda stupid because there are any other bi famous-people that they don't ask that.

Sorry for the big text and bad english I just really needed to make what I think about it clear.

pithousand | July 11, 2011 9:25 AM

On the other hand, a simple Google search would also lead anyone to find out that Lady Gaga is a man, the antichrist, a "hermaphrodite" (Google's word choice, not mine.) There are so many rumors, half-truths and lies floating around on the internet, it's not surprising that interviewers would want to ask the question for themselves instead of simply believing what they read online somewhere.

Furthermore, they could have been asking to be sure "the B letter" is actually the label she identifies with herself. Perhaps previous interviewers/journalists had assigned "bisexual" to her when she actually identified as "queer", "questioning", "pansexual", "heteroflexible", or any other term that could place her somewhere in the middle of the spectrum but often just gets lumped in with the "B" if you're only using the 4-letter acronym.

Or perhaps The Advocate is biphobic after all. But I don't think that's the conclusion I would have jumped to immediately.

I don't know that it's so much bi-phobia as it is getting her on the record with the magazine of record for LGBT folks. They'd have been criticized if they didn't talk to her about it too.

See, they need to address the subject but this was a very poor way of addressing it. How about asking "You have talked about being bi, can you share a couple stories about how that has impacted your life?"

Also note their use of language "she says she is one of them" and "she has discussed her attraction to women in the past" as opposed to "she is attracted to women" and "she is one of them[us]" And in one sentence they frame her male partner and attraction to women as contradictory pieces of information (as indicated by the word 'though').

All of it, right down to the syntax, is framed to cast doubt on her orientation. It wouldn't fly if they were writing about a monosexual who just came out. I might give some benefit of the doubt to another writer, but The Advocate has a history of improperly representing anyone but monosexual gender normative cis gay men. They lost all credibility in my mind after my recent history with them.

Tobi... I actually agree w/alot of what you posted.
**SHOCKER*** I know.

But when you use ID's as "monosexual" you IMMEDEIATLY have 75% of subcribers scroll pass you.

These ID's that people are not using for themselves are a HUGE problem in building ANY bridge.

Word of advice:
Turn down the PC/Academia Lingo and be a "real person" to be heard as a real person.

Those who ID as BI... don't need this kind of help.

Interesting Dieks, what language would you suggest instead? Non-bisexuals? Or should I just write it out long form, "people who are not bisexual"?

I understand the oddity of using a term for folks that they don't use for themselves, but part of my difficulty is that I've seen plenty of cases where gay/lesbian is not mutually exclusive with bisexual, so I don't quite feel right using gay/lesbian as a synonym for what I'm talking about here.

I don't get it. The Kinsey report came out in the 50s, not too many years ago George Clooney made a movie about DR Kinsey and his research and still people view human sexuality as if everyone is either hetero or homo with the majority being hetero.
It just ain't so. Most of us human beings fall between these 2 extremes. Our society makes it easier and rewards those who identify as hetero and part of the "punishment" for dallying with a same-sex partner was having the label "homo" slapped on you.
Maybe it's just a phase the human race is going through?
All the men I've had for lovers were bisexual though only one, the current one, identifies as bi. The rest were gay or straight. I remember one man asking me if I were gay after I blew him. LOL!
And even though I am a big Queen I've had sex of one sort or another with several women and enjoyed it. God bless us all.

Paige Listerud | July 11, 2011 7:46 PM

I really think of Gaga as a young woman who, because of a paucity of sexual and emotional intimacy with women, has trouble speaking decisively about her bisexual identity. Such minimalism in her responses leads to questioning, and re-questioning, from gay media and straight.

All the same, Advocate missed an opportunity to go beyond the overly-simplistic. One gets the feeling they don't know where to go with their inquiry into bisexual/pansexual/queer/fluid experience or identification and how that might shape a person's perspective on LGBTQ rights and advancement. The result is that we only get a surface glimpse into Gaga's sexual, as well as artistic, sensibility. Better luck next time, Advocate.

That is an interesting article. The impression I got was that Lady Gaga brought the subject up herself.

I think the OP is making a mountain out of a molehill. From the way I read it, it looks like the Advocate was just clarifying her orientation once and for all. Especially since despite the fact she's always been out, most people think Gaga is straight (or trans* or intersex or whatever rumor of the week they make up about her).

When she spoke in the Equality march back in 09 (?) most folks wondered what the hell was she doing there?

There's no "wrong way" to be bisexual. Some of you who sound pretty bigoted need to get with the program and come into the 21st century.

Actually, to follow your article, if I encountered someone who identified as heterosexual and said that he can't have emotional relationships with black women, just sexual ones, and that he could only have complete emotional and sexual relationships with white women, I would at least call him a black fetishist and at worst as racist. The same would follow for this "blond" analogy used in the article. And, also, Gaga didn't say that she's "mostly attracted to men." She made it pretty clear that women are just for sex and men are for sex AND love.

If she had said that "most" of her sexual and emotional attraction is for men, that would be something different and would total fit with the "no wrong way to be a bisexual" argument (of which I subscribe. You could be 1:99, and it would be valid). But she really makes it clear that women are to get her rocks off, but men are for emotional fulfillment.

As Amy herself states in a later post:

"...that would be pretty sexist and biphobic on the part of these men, because their survey responses would imply that women's (bi)sexuality is for male pleasure and is somehow about them (the men). Their survey responses would also imply that a woman cheating with another woman "doesn't count" as cheating, because women's (bi)sexuality with one another has less value and less meaning (compared to women's sexuality with men)."

If you've sanctioned off your relationships with other women as only existing in the sexual realm with no possibility of the emotional, and made a point that on the other hand, men fulfill both, aren't you stating that your "relationships" with women have less meaning than those with men? How would these men (potentially) be biphobic for doing the same, but Gaga would not?

Even Lindsay Lohan was linked with just as few women, but she never said that her relationship with Samantha Ronson was one that could never enter into the emotional/romantic realm like it could with a man.

And if we have pop stars/rappers like Nikki Manaj grabbing press in their early careers by identifying as bisexual only to speak on record and deny that they ever identified as such, why is it "rude" or "biphobic"? Isn't it more offensive that someone is using someone's real identity, one held by actual people, an identity with meaning, with struggle, and with significance, just to develop a fan base until they get steady and can walk away?

I think that's the exact definition of a "poser"--someone adopting a false identity to market themselves to a commercial audience as an attempt to ensure their own success. And you don't want to question that?

I would never have questioned Nikki Manaj if she hadn't contradicted her previous claims of "bisexuality". And likewise, I wouldn't question Lady Gaga's sexuality if not for the fact that she makes these contradictory statements. She says she's bi, then she says that there is no possibility (in her own assessment of her sexuality) of ever having a holistically fulfilling relationship with a woman. On the ratio of relationship potential with men or women (60:40, 50:50, 10:90, etc.) that's not even on the scale. The only relationships she's having (or perceives herself ever having) are with men. But, as she states, she is capable of having meaningless sex with both men and women.