This article was originally written for Gladeo's Blog in celebration of LGBT Pride Month and was published on June 14, 2016.
Sometimes in life you don't always feel like a winner, but that doesn't mean you're not a winner, you want to be like yourself. I want my fans to know it's okay.
Stefani Joanne Angelina Germonatta is one of the world's most known celebrities. Her trophy collection includes 6 Grammies since her debut in 2008, a Songwriters Hall of Fame's Contemporary Icon Award, and the first woman to ever win a Digital Diamond Award from RIAA. Outside of her career in music, she has dabbled in the art of acting, adding a Golden Globe award to her list of achievements this year. Her name continues to be a household name, being second on the list of Time Magazine's Most Influential Women From the Last Decade in 2013.
Of course, you know Stefani by her stage name, Lady Gaga.
While it seems that her success happened overnight, Gaga comes from humble beginnings. Born in 1986, Stefani grew up in the Upper West Side of New York City. She attended the Covenant of the Sacred Heart, a private, all girl's Roman Catholic School, where she experienced bullying from a young age. During an interview, she once said
"I used to get made fun of for being either too provocative or too eccentric, so I started to tone it down. I didn't fit in, and I felt like a freak."
At the age of four, Stefani found solace in playing the piano. While she found a passion for the musical arts, Stefani was also passionate about acting. She studied method acting at Lee Strasberg Theater and Film Institute for ten years before being accepted to New York University's Tisch School of the Arts. As a student, her instructors told her that she was ‘too theater ‘ for pop and ‘too pop’ for theater and would never be a star because she was ‘too ethnic’. After two years in NYU, she dropped out to pursue a musical career.
Before she embraced the Lady Gaga persona, she released an EP with the Stefani Germonatta Band called Red and Blue. Her original piano-heavy style differed from the style she is known for today. She would often be found singing in local bars and clubs, while simultaneously working three jobs to support herself. After briefly being signed by her first record label, Island Def Jam, she was dropped just months later.
"But after he signed me, he never met with me. I used to wait outside his office for hours, hoping he'd take meetings with me about my songs, but it never happened. He eventually dropped me after three months. I was pretty devastated. I know what it's like being on a label when they don't quite get it."
But the obstacles she faced did not stop her. Eventually, she would sign to Interscope Records, which began her journey as the entity we know as Lady Gaga. After eight years, she has released five albums, with three landing the number one spot on Billboard 100. She has sold an estimated 27 million albums and 125 million singles worldwide. After years away from acting, Gaga would join the cast of American Horror Story: Hotel, where she played The Countess. This role would give her a Golden Globe Award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Limited Series.
Aside from her career, Gaga is an influential supporter of the gay community. She has spoken out about the dangerous effects of bullying to LGBT youth and the repealing of Don't Ask, Don't Tell. Gaga describes her involvement at the National Equality March in Washington, D.C. as "the single most important moment" of her career. In 2012, she founded the Born This Way Foundation, a non-profit organization that focuses on youth empowerment and issues like self-confidence, well-being, anti-bullying, mentoring, and career development. During the Born This Way Ball, Gaga offered professional counseling to her fans in the 'Born Brave Bus', a youth drop-in center that was present before her concerts.
Lady Gaga continues to be an inspiration to millions around the world. Her humble beginnings and determination to overcome obstacles have made Stefani a symbol of hope for many artists. Her philanthropy and activism for LGBT rights have made her an important modern Gay icon. In honor of LGBT Pride Month, we recognize the influence of Lady Gaga.
“Tonight I want to forget all your insecurities. Tonight I want you to reject anyone or anything that has made you feel like you don't belong, or don't fit in, or has made you feel like you're not good enough or pretty enough or thin enough, or like you can't sing well enough or dance well enough, or write a song well enough, or like YOU'LL NEVER WIN A GRAMMY, or like YOU'LL NEVER SELL OUT MADISON SQUARE GARDEN! You just remember that you are a superstar and you were born this way!”
Joseph Fortuno, LGBT Pride Month Content Curator