The fact that this album came out four years before I came out is so surreal to me because of how different of a place I was in mentally. I was in grade 11, dating a girl I’m still friends with, being relentlessly harassed for being gay despite me doing everything I could to try and pretend and convince myself and those around me I wasn’t. Months after trying to go back into the closet after coming out to my parents as bisexual and then backtracking and claiming it was a phase. Suicidal ideation. Misery. Hope. Believing I’d be in a loveless, sexless marriage or kill myself by the time I was 30 to end my suffering. Wanting so badly to be straight and jacking off to gay porn while telling myself that I’d stop when I get married to a woman. All while this fucking album was blasting in the background, giving me some naive sliver of hope.
When I listened to this album, nothing I just said above mattered. I just felt free and I felt happy, and I felt like everything someday would be ok. I could come out, my parents could still love me, and I’d have a great life. But only when this album was playing. Outside of that the dark reality of what I was going through was a perpetual cloud over my fantastical idea of what my life could be. When I needed that hope, that inspiration, that fantasy of a life I thought I’d never lead, a dream that could never be a reality, one where I could be openly gay, accept and love myself, and have my family and friends still by my side, I’d slap this record on. It was my safe space, my haven, my protection from the life I so stringently believed I’d live - a life of hiding, a life of sadness and self resentment, a wasted time on earth.
Despite my desperate appeal to convince not only myself, but others around me that I was straight, I was never silent about my love for Gaga, and especially not this album. Like Achilles shooting his own self in the heel, I was so vocal about my love for this album, and for the woman who wrote it. It only fueled the flames of the homophobia and bullying I endured in high school, but it was still so important to me.
I write this now, ten years later, thinking about the time where I could never, in a thousand years, have imagined I would live as an openly confident, and loved by my family and friends, gay man. This woman, and this stupid, insane, kitchen sink, balls to the walls banger of a fucking album is what, and who I have to thank for it.
I was having a hard time earlier trying to come up with a post dedicated to this album, and what I just said doesn’t scratch the surface of how it has changed my life, but I think it gives a pretty good idea.
Listening to this album today, despite how fucked up the world is, made me really happy. It made me think of how far I’ve come, and how I’m living a life that seemed so far out of reach from when I originally heard this record. So many of us have this exact same story, all tied to some synths, drums, and powerful (and often times ridiculous) lyrics. It’s amazing what music can do.
Thank you Gaga; for this album, for what you have done for society, and for the inspiration you have given millions of queer kids around the globe. You truly have changed the world. There are a lot of us who wouldn’t still be here today if it wasn’t for this album with the dumbest fucking cover I have ever seen.