As part of Joe Ferguson’s and Tor Smith’s month long LGBT+ blog series, featured on the Wilde About History blog,  here’s my piece on my LGBT+ hero and inspiration.

Over the years, a diverse number of LGBT+ celebrities have inspired me. They include Madonna, Cher, and George Michael to name but a few. However, there’s one particular LGBT+ celebrity who stands head and shoulders above the rest as my LGBT+ celebrity hero: Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta. I know you must be thinking “Wait, who?” Lady Gaga of course! When I first laid eyes on this eclectic Italian-American songstress, after her extremely catchy debut single ‘Just Dance’ stormed to No.1 in the UK charts back in January 2009, I had no idea how much of an impact this woman was about to have on my life, not just through her music, but through her strong commitment to her role as a prominent LGBT+ advocate.

Back when Gaga first started out, I was in my first year of high school, which was far from the happiest time of my life. I was bullied almost every day for being different, the odd one out, not like the other boys. People automatically assumed that I was gay before I could even come to terms with my sexuality myself, and they would make fun of me for it by calling me countless derogatory names, which only made me feel worse and more insecure about myself.  However, little did I know, Lady Gaga, this 5’2 singer from New York City, decked out in her fishnets, outrageous costumes and insanely high heels, was about to, in accordance with her motto, change my life and loads of others around the world “one sequin at a time.”

As the years passed, I realised (unlike some people who just do not get Lady Gaga at all), that there is much more to this woman than a crazy wig or highly controversial meat dress. The first time I saw Lady Gaga make a stand for the LGBT+ community was during the 2009 National Equality March in Washington D.C, where she made a powerful speech displaying her unconditional love and support for the LGBT+ community. From then on, she has continuously maintained this amazing, impactful commitment to the LGBT+ community. Her mega LGBT+ song and album Born This Way practically saved the lives of myself and many of her “little monsters” who were afraid to speak out about their true LGBT+ identity, by teaching them to strive against their troubles and allowing them to find light through a dark, yet freeing, endearing artistic musical masterpiece and journey. The moment when I first saw her live on her ArtRave tour in 2014 at Manchester Arena, when she paused her concert to help a gay couple get engaged, before serenading them and the tens of thousands of audience members with a simply beautiful ‘Born This Way’ acapella and an accompanying powerful speech about equality, inspired me to come out as gay to everyone six days later. After the tragic, senseless gun attack at Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida which left numerous LGBT+ people dead, when she made an emotional tribute to all of those affected during a vigil held in L.A. These are just some of many moments where Lady Gaga has totally earned the right to be regarded as an inspirational LGBT+ icon and trailblazer, both through her music and her second-to-none charity work.

Whether she is provocatively writhing around onstage, or in a music video dressed in avant-garde attire from The Fame Monster era, or simply sitting with a piano or guitar singing stripped back country songs from her most recent era Joanne, Lady Gaga continues to prove that, in a time when the music industry and society endlessly glorify perfection, you are allowed to love yourself for who you truly are, be proud, and never give up on your dreams regardless of your sexuality, race, appearance etc. as you were ‘Born This Way.’ I fully look forward to attending Lady Gaga’s upcoming Joanne Tour, at which I am sure I will be reminded of how, after almost a full decade of being an avid ‘little monster’ and after everything that has changed throughout the last decade, I continue to cite her as my main LGBT+ celebrity hero, inspiration and friend, for whom I owe an insurmountable amount of gratitude.

To read more blogs from the series, visit: https://wildeabouthistory.wordpress.com/