Lady Gaga: Missionary to the Marginalized

by | Dec 20, 2018 | Music, Pop Culture, Sexuality

The more I learn about Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta, better known as Lady Gaga, the more fascinated I become. Gaga is a musical powerhouse with an original tone and tenor to her voice which attracts many and a penchant for tickling the ivories. Her recent performance in A Star is Born blew me away. But what strikes me most about Gaga, is her faith-filled conviction to ally with, and advocate for, the radical loving embrace of the LGBTQ community.

To be sure, I hold the teachings of the Church on marriage and human sexuality in high esteem. However, as a mental health clinician who has worked with various people from the LGBTQ community and has seen and heard their struggles first hand, I have to say, the Church can vastly improve how we minister alongside and love those who are labeled “intrinsically disordered.”1 And I say this now, in part, because of Lady Gaga and her care for a LGBTQ community which is at best tolerated in the Church, and at worst violently rejected.

I know what you’re thinking. How could a meat dress-wearing pop star possibly be a model of Gospel love? Easy – she is doing good work. Every good work in us is done in and through the Holy Spirit. And make no mistake, Gaga is certainly doing good works when she goes to the streets to speak to and comfort LGBTQ who are homeless, or encourages people who are gay or who may be questioning their gender to stop hating themselves, and to embrace their innate goodness as made in the image and likeness of God.

Gaga’s song, “Born this Way” strikes me as a musical sermon which speaks to a reality many in the Church are not willing to accept: many elements of a person’s sexuality develop early in the gestational period before birth. This means that many persons who are gay are literally “born this way.” I’ve heard several gay men say they’ve tried to “pray” their homosexuality away, and that they would have never “chosen” to be gay considering the way society treats those who are gay. Indeed, societal pressures and stigmas often lead to an increased risk of suicide among LGBTQ youth.

Let me be clear, loving those who Lady Gaga loves does not mean we give everyone a free pass to live however they want with no eye towards what is best for themselves and for society.2 But it does mean that we as a Church ought to befriend the LGBTQ community with a more radical inclusiveness. This inclusiveness means welcoming all people to the table of the Lord and to full participation in the sacraments which are proper to them. Truly, this invitation should not be that difficult. The fundamental truth is that all are sinners, and all are universally called to holiness by the endless mercy of God through the grace of the sacraments.

The living God is the God of life. For her part, Lady Gaga has given so many people life through her music and her acting. I am no doubt star-struck by Gaga’s ability to draw people of all kinds to herself. While her methods are clearly different than Jesus’, Jesus is surely at work in her. We don’t have to like everything Gaga does in order to support her good works. We simply need to acknowledge the good and go and do likewise. Her message of radically including people that others would rather keep at a distance is a hallmark of Christ’s ministry to the unwanted. Lady Gaga is sharing Good News. Perhaps it is time that we as a Church share this Good News also.


Cover image courtesy FlickrCC, found here.

  1. There are reasons the Church uses the language of “intrinsically disordered” when speaking about any sexuality that is contrary to the natural law which is rooted in being and in what we observe in nature for the most part. The Church derives a moral “ought” from a metaphysical and physical “is” that says men and women are naturally meant to be together because they can form families by nature and that this is what is best for society. Thus any sexual activity that is not “ordered” towards the natural end of forming families is “disordered.” Whether this label is appropriate or not is not the point of this article.
  2. I am not proposing any radical sweeping changes to Church teaching on marriage, human sexuality, or morality. However, I do suspect that moral theologians have a lot of work to do in order to reconcile our pastoral efforts toward the LGBTQ community with our current doctrines.

Emanuel Werner, SJ   /   All posts by Emanuel