Lady Gaga celebrated Pride Month with a rousing speech between songs in front of a packed audience at Harlem’s Apollo Theater on Monday. The pop star and longtime LGBTQ ally spoke about the necessity of Pride and the importance of asking people their pronouns. She even gave a shoutout to transgender icon Marsha P. Johnson.
“So it’s Pride Week. I wish it could exist 365 days of the year, but I’ll take a f---ing global week,” the singer told the crowd. “Wow, on Friday, the 50th anniversary of Stonewall. Yeah, that was when our community said enough is enough.”
The Stonewall uprising, which started in the early hours of June 28, 1969, after police raided New York City’s Stonewall Inn gay bar, is widely considered the spark that fueled the modern-day LGBTQ rights movement.
“All hail to so many, including Miss Marsha P. Johnson,” Lady Gaga continued. “What bravery, what courage.”
Johnson, who achieved LGBTQ icon status following her death in 1992, was born and raised in Elizabeth, New Jersey. She left the Garden State for N.Y.C. in 1963 with just $15 and a bag of clothes. She became a fixture in Greenwich Village and even earned the nickname “Mayor of Christopher Street.” Johnson is widely reported to have participated in the Stonewall uprising, and after the historic rebellion, she and fellow trans activist Sylvia Rivera formed Street Transvestite Action Revolutions (STAR), which supported homeless queer youth in Manhattan.
During Monday’s show, which was her first performance in her hometown in almost two years, Lady Gaga also stressed the importance of asking people their pronouns.
“Ask the question: What is your pronoun?” she said. “For a lot of people, it’s really hard, and their pronouns aren’t respected or they’re not asked.”
For some people, especially those who are gender-nonconforming or nonbinary, their preferred pronouns — he, she, they — may not be obvious. In March 2017, The Associated Press announced that the 2017 AP Stylebook — which is followed by many newsrooms around the country — would allow the usage of singular "they" pronouns in cases where a subject identifies as neither exclusively male nor female. Major dictionaries have also recognized singular "they" pronouns as grammatically correct for years, including the Oxford English Dictionary and Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary.
“I’ve grown and changed over the years in a lot of different ways. I’ve felt misunderstood in different ways,” Lady Gaga said. “All our hardships are different. I don’t mean to compare. I just mean to say we’re in this together.”
One of the many Lady Gaga superfans in the crowd was none other than “RuPaul’s Drag Race” star Alaska.
“It was stunning to see a star of her magnitude in such an intimate space,” Alaska told NBC News. “Plus, the Apollo is such a historic theater, and Lady Gaga is from New York, so it was a very special once-in-a-lifetime moment.”
“Some corporations and stars like to celebrate diversity and inclusivity when June rolls around, but Lady Gaga talks the talk and walks the walk all year round,” Alaska continued “She always has been supportive and respectful of our community, and I consider her part of our community’s family.”