A couple of days ago I started watching RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 9 and (spoilers!) the one and only Lady Gaga made a special appearance. Considering I’ve been a Little Monster since like 2009, this instantly made me burst into tears of gayness and love.

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While this wasn’t surprising at all that Gaga finally appeared on Drag Show, it really made me cast my mind back over the past 6 or 7 years, wondering what my life would have been like without such an influential woman to guide me in the form of music. As those who have had the pleasure of being in the same area as me for more than 10 minutes will know, I am always singing. By no means am I good at singing, but as I’m sure many of you will agree, music has always had a way of comforting me. Knowing that someone has been through what I have, knowing someone understands the pain and the emotions, the ups and downs, the struggles and the relief is so very important to me. While everything around me in my life has changed, there was one woman in particular whose music seemingly matched my life experiences and helped me make sense of my own emotions, and to build confidence in who I am.

From ‘The Fame’ back in 2008 to ‘Joanne’ in 2016, there have rarely been songs she’s written that I can’t fully relate to. After rewriting this next bit three times, I’ve decided the best way to continue to express my love for this astounding woman is to break my feelings and experiences down into the exact songs that changed me and helped me grow. Almost every song Lady Gaga has created relates to my life in some way, but these are the ones that really made my worst days a tiny bit more bearable:

I Like It Rough 

This was definitely not my favourite song the first time round, in fact I can’t say I even remember it from my first listen of the album, but it has definitely remained one of the most inspiring. For me, the song really puts the image of exactly what a strong woman in a bad relationship can do. I can’t tell you exactly what I think the song is about; whether Gaga really did love this man, whether he drove her crazy, or whether she was trying to drive him crazy. My inability to fully understand the exact meaning is why I can relate to it quite easily. Honestly? My life is just a collection of bad relationships that often began or ended in this way, so for me it’s almost quite a liberating song. It symbolises the beginning and the end simultaneously and I really quite like that.

Your love is nothing I can’t fight, can’t sleep with a man who dims my light.

Marry The Night

Now the reason for this making my list isn’t strictly relating to the song, which is undoubtedly one of Gaga’s top songs regardless, but actually because of the intro to the music video. Marry The Night begins in a setting that I have had nightmares of since I learned of their existence: a mental health clinic. Again, for those who know me well enough, it’s no secret that my mental health has a habit of spiraling in and out of control. Luckily it is yet to get bad enough for me to need this kind of help, but it has still been a real fear of mine. The video ends with Gaga frantically pouring gasoline over a car and lighting it up. For some this symbolises destruction and chaos, but to me it almost felt like she’d finally destroyed everything that was causing her insecurities and fears. This music video has always made me feel a little bit more in control of my own mental health, and a little bit less alone in fighting it.

I’m going to be a star. You know why? Because… I have nothing left to lose.

Hair

Ever since hearing this song it has been one that has really represented exactly how it feels to decide that you are in charge of what you do in your own life. Gaga has used cutting and dying her hair as a metaphor for so many decisions that can alter people’s perception of you and I truly believe it’s so relevant and relatable. Just as with your hair, you should be allowed to express yourself in any way you choose, and you shouldn’t be scared of the way people look at you or treat you. Live your life knowing that you are free to do what you choose and are not bound by other people’s opinions. It’s easier said than done, I know, but this song was the beginning of my continuous journey of self-acceptance.

I just wanna be myself and I want you to love me for who I am.

Born This Way

Choosing this to be on the list was probably predictable but by no means less important a choice. Born This Way was probably one of my first memorable experiences with the LGBT+ community and just how supportive and loving a community it is. In hindsight, I think this song really was paramount in me discovering who I really was and embracing it for the first time. While I’m not religious, this song really did speak to me and I sought comfort in not feeling alone. Even if “not being alone” simply meant listening to Lady Gaga in my bedroom, knowing someone would always care and love me without even knowing me really was so important for me as a teenager.

No matter gay, straight or bi, lesbian, transgender life, I’m on the right track baby, I was born to survive.

Til It Happens To You

I really do have to stress that this could be triggering for some of you reading so please don’t read this or watch the video if that’s the case. TW: rape/sexual abuse.
Up until this point in her musical career, Gaga’s music had never quite touched my heart as much as this song did. In fact, when I heard it for the first time I cried for a solid hour with it on repeat. Very few people know about my experience with the person who cause my heavy connection with this song, and nobody knows exactly what happened or why, and I very much intend on keeping it that way. The first time I heard this song was in August 2016 and I can’t stress enough how real it felt at the time, and even now thinking back. Lady Gaga had always been someone I looked up to and who inspired me to be strong, but there are some situations you may face in life where strength just isn’t an option. After I finally built up all my courage and cut off the person who made this song my reality for nearly a month, I slowly told people close to me about the situation until I was fed up of hearing “you’ll get over it one day”. This song really summed up for me how I felt about the entire experience, and how no one will ever really know why I am how I am unless it has happened to them too. For me, this song and the music video combined represented solidarity and compassion; the only things I never really got after one person poisoned a part of my life permanently.

Tell me how the hell could you know, how would you know, til it happens to you, you won’t know how it feels, how it feels, til it happens to you, you won’t know, it won’t be real.

Hey Girl (ft. Florence Welch)

While I was trying to do this in order of release date, this has worked out nicely as I can end this post on a much more positive note. This is a beautiful song from Lady Gaga’s most recent album ‘Joanne’. When I first heard this song a few months ago, this was the one that really stood out for me. In a world full of women competing against each other, pointing out flaws, gossiping about each other and dragging other women down, this song highlights exactly what I stand for, and exactly how I wish everyone was. It is exactly what I love about feminism twisted into an uplifting song. The way we as women treat each other needs to get better. Female empowerment is so important and this song emphasises this.

Hey girl, hey girl, we can make it easy if we lift each other, hey girl, hey girl, we don’t need to keep on one-in up another.

As I’ve hopefully made clear, this person is nothing short of spectacular. She is a role model, a LGBT+ icon, and stands for so many heartbreaking and wonderful causes. All I really wish for in my life is that I get the opportunity to tell her just how loved she is and how much better she has made my life. Lady Gaga is a pure ray of sunshine and I hope her music continues to inspire others the way it has inspired me.

~Jem x

Side note: yes, I cried writing this. Like, a lot.

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