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On Sunday, President Obama, demonstrating once again his populist bona fides, held a fundraiser near San Francisco for his Hollywood friends. The price of admission: $38,500 per plate. (Couldn’t these folks have donated that money to pay down the debt in order to ensure that they turn over their “fair share?” Never mind.)
In attendance was one Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta, aka Lady Gaga. And as usual, it wasn’t enough for the queen of bizarroworld to show up – she had to steal the show. Before the event, Lady Gaga reportedly met privately with President Obama to discuss the issue of bullying of gays. Then, during the Q&A portion of the dinner, she stood up and read a fan letter from a gay 14-year-old, Jamey Rodemeyer, who committed suicide, reportedly after being teased about his sexuality. She called on President Obama to make bullying illegal. “I am meeting with our President,” Gaga said on Twitter before the event. “I will not stop fighting. This must end. Our generation has the power to end it. Trend it #MakeALawForJamey.”
Before his suicide, Rodemeyer made a heartbreaking video that you can view here. In it, he talks about how he thought he might bisexual in December of last year; he was sent hate from people who told him he would go to hell. He says things were getting better – when he came out as bisexual, he says, he got lots of support from his friends and family. He says he looks up to Lady Gaga, that she told him he was “born this way.” He attended Lady Gaga’s “Monster Ball” and felt liberated. Just four months later, he was dead by his own hand.
Bullying is a terrible practice. There is no question about it. There is also no question that Rodemeyer suffered from some sort of depression. His parents made the right moves – they had him seeing a social worker and a therapist, apparently. Sometimes that isn’t enough. There are two great tragedies to Rodemeyer’s story, then: the horrific bullying, and the fact that its victim was mentally troubled.
Beyond the tragedy of Rodemeyer’s death, there are at least two specific problems with Lady Gaga’s call to presidential action. First, bullying affects a huge percentage of the population. Very few people have never been bullied at school. It usually has nothing to do with sexuality. Chubby kids get bullied. Short kids get bullied. Religious kids get bullied. Atheist kids get bullied. Singling out bullying of gays as somehow more noteworthy politicizes the issue.
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