In 2009, a little song called “Poker Face” had taken the nation by storm. Meanwhile, a sweet lil’ ditty called “Just Dance” had already had the gays in a chokehold for an entire summer.
We didn’t know then what a superstar Lady Gaga would be (I mean, SOME of us did) but we knew what we liked: and we liked everything the former NYU student and self-confessed weirdo was putting out there.
This town just made it illegal to be gay in public.
In the first flush of fame, Gaga took her performance art through the talk show circuit both here and in the UK. Across the pond, the popular talk show Friday Night with Jonathan Ross was blessed with Gaga’s celestial presence. But when Ross finally got around to the transphobic rumor floating around at the time that Lady Gaga was either a trans woman or intersex, Gaga pulled no punches.
While other stars around this time—including one Katy Perry, whose homophobic bop “UR So Gay” came out the same year—were quick to deny any gay rumors or associations with transness and trans culture, Gaga was one of the few artists who stood up for her LGBTQ+ fans from jump. Faced with rumors about her genitalia, Gaga gracefully and gladly accepted the commentary of talk show hosts and critics as compliments.
On an April 2009 taping of Friday Night with Jonathan Ross, with Hugh Jackman waiting in the green room, Ross—using transphobic language sadly characteristic of the time—brought up the rumors to Gaga. “Someone said Lady Gaga is a very well-endowed young man,” Ross said. To which Gaga replied, “I do have a really big donkey d*ck.”
Nothing could really be said afterward, because what was left to say? Before “Born This Way,” before “It Gets Better,” Lady Gaga showed up for trans people in a way that we’d never seen before in the claustrophobic heterosexual culture of the late ‘oughts. And we’ll always love her for it.