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Lady Gaga’s Jo Calderone VMA Performance Praised by LGBT Community

Lady Gaga
Jason Merritt, Getty Images

While some people may have been perplexed by Lady Gaga‘s performance as Jo Calderone at the 2011 VMAs, MTV spoke to some major players in the LGBT community, and both men had positive things to say about the singer’s dramatic drag king act. With Gaga acting as one of the foremost proponents for equal rights within the LGBT community, many saw Jo Calderone’s appearance as a major feat, since drag kings and queens aren’t common occurrences on major broadcasts like the VMAs.

MTV spoke to John Polly, who is the editor of the Logo blog NewNowNext.com (a pop culture blog targeted towards the gay population), about Gaga’s Calderone character, and he praised her for having the guts to break the gender barrier on national television. “I thought it was great,” Polly told MTV News. “Gender issues are often the most challenging for people, so I liked that she dove into it and stuck with it throughout the show.”

The multimedia network also spoke to Murray Hill, a beloved drag queen in the New York City area and creator/host of the female-to-male reality competition, ‘Mr. Transmen.’ Hill had very positive words concerning Gaga’s Calderone.

“There is barely any visibility for FTM, drag kings and lesbians on television. There is a huge imbalance,” Hill said. “For Lady Gaga, the biggest pop star in the world, to go on TV with millions of people watching in drag as a man and then to actually say ‘lesbian and transgender’ live is undeniably powerful and creates change. She ups the visibility big time and gets the language into the mainstream.”

Polly continued on the matter, saying that although her performance piece was riveting and supportive of the gay community, he is wary to say that this was a ground-breaking moment for the LGBT community. “I think it complements [her advocacy],” Polly said, “but I don’t know that it was even a statement on the LGBT community; it’s just a character she wanted to play. But since we don’t see [drag kings or female-to-male transgender persons] much, we perceive it that way.”

While Polly may be a bit skeptical about the impact of Gaga’s alter ego, Hill is just happy that Gaga is spreading awareness and acceptance throughout the world. “Lady Gaga has only spread a positive and accepting message for all kinds of queer people,” Hill said. “She does this through her work, which is entertainment. There is a lot of homophobic hate spewed in the music industry and in the world. I’m grateful she is using her voice to spread the love.”

In addition to their own opinions, Polly also stated that he has been seeing lots of favorable comments on Logo’s AfterEllen.com, a pop culture site targeted towards lesbians and bisexual women.

What did you think of Lady Gaga’s performance as Jo Calderone? Leave us a comment below and share your own thoughts and feedback.

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