Lady Gaga Asks Young People to Seek Repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” – Should They Be Taking Lessons in Activism from Her?

My 16 year old son just sent me this YouTube video (it’s long so I am placing it at the end of the post). It is a serious plea from Lady Gaga to call your Senator and ask him or her to ask for repeal of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT) policy. Specifically:

–Tell your senators to vote with Sen. Reid and Sen. Carl Levin in opposing the filibuster, defeat amendments to strike repeal, and defeat any crippling amendments.

–Senators should follow the lead of Sen. Carl Levin who will be managing the defense bill.

Working with the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, Lady Gaga has been bringing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” and the hardship it causes, to the attention of young people a lot lately. She appeared at the Video Music Awards with a guard of service members who have been discharged or resigned from the military because of DADT. One of them was a young woman who recently resigned from West Point and is interviewed here by Rachel Maddow.

I have never had to explain the injustice of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” or any other anti-gay policy to my son. I have had to explain that such bigotry exists because he couldn’t understand it. Gay and lesbian people have always been a part of his life. He knows his mother is bisexual, though that didn’t come up until he asked me for help when a friend of his was coming out to his parents. That conversation started with: “Mom, X is coming out to his parents this weekend and I told him he could stay here if his parents throw him out.” My son makes me very very proud.

When my son was 12, a much larger kid in the neighborhood was making remarks my son found offensive. When my son called the kid homophobic, the kid threatened to hit him. There were a few lessons that came out of that incident – lessons I learned myself as a kid. First, you can get beaten up for having a larger vocabulary than bigger kids. The homophobic kid didn’t know what “homophobic” meant and thought he was being called “homosexual.” Second, pick your battles because sometimes you can get your ass kicked for standing up for what you believe in. My son told me it was something he was willing to get his ass kicked over – fighting homophobia is that important to him.

But should your kids be learning political activism from Lady Gaga? Well, my hope is that my kids learn lessons about political activism from a wide variety of sources, though it starts with me. If Lady Gaga were taking a political position with which my son disagreed, I would be hearing about that – though critically.  My son sent me this video because he supports Lady Gaga’s efforts. And so do I.

Do you talk to your kids about LGBT issues? What do you think they are learning from their friends? How do you feel about pop figures teaching your kids about politics?

3 Comments

  • Annie @ PhD in Parenting
    Twitter: phdinparenting
    September 17, 2010 My kids are still young now, so we don’t talk about issues much. However, we do try to expose them to a more diverse view of society than they would be getting through mainstream media. Through our friendships with lesbian and gay couples, by taking them to LGBT cultural events, by talking about potential future “sweethearts” that they may have rather than a “girlfriend” or “boyfriend”, we want to show them that love is love.I think it is a good idea for pop figures to engage kids in politics and for pop figures to have opinions. I’ve heard a lot of talk lately about using Justin Bieber to get more young people to vote. If that works, fabulous. I want young people to be politically active and socially engaged. My children will learn the importance of that from me, but if it is reinforced (rather than counteracted) by what they see from pop figures they look up to, then that makes my job easier instead of making it harder.
    Annie @ PhD in Parenting´s last blog post ..Wordless Wednesday- Lego Birthday Cake reply
    • Jake
      Twitter: Jakearyehmarcus
      replied:September 18, 2010 I agree, Annie. Kids think things are “normal” when we show them it is. And they do emulate pop stars, for good or ill.I have really been impressed with how much Lady Gaga has put into this. And the point in this video when her senator’s phone line just rings and rings … says so much about how inaccessible politicians are in the U.S. reply
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