Born into a Catholic family in New York City on March 28, 1986, Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta is known today as Lady Gaga, one of the world's preeminent pop music performers. Raised in Manhattan's Upper West Side, this musical prodigy learned to play the piano by the age of 4 and was accepted to the prestigious Juilliard School at age 11, but opted instead to attend a private Catholic school. She continued to study music and perform throughout her teens, and then attended New York University's Tisch School of the Arts for one year before dropping out in 2005. At that time, Gaga began a brief stint under contract with Def Jam Records, and in 2007 she signed on as a songwriter with Interscope Records. In 2008 she released her debut album, The Fame, which was followed by The Fame Monster (2009), Born This Way (2011), Artpop (2013), and Cheek to Cheek (2014, with Tony Bennett). For additional information on Lady Gaga's career in the entertainment industry, click here and here.
Aside from her music, Lady Gaga—a self-identified bisexual—is widely known as an outspoken activist for LGBT rights. She called the October 11, 2009 National Equality March in Washington, DC “the single most important event of my career.” In June 2011 in Rome, Italy, Gaga appeared at Europride, an international event dedicated to celebrating LGBT lifestyles, and hailed those in attendance as “revolutionaries of love.” And in 2014 she became an ordained minister with the Universal Life Church—where ordination is a mail-order process that indiscriminately accepts any and all applicants—so that she could perform a wedding ceremony for two of her longtime lesbian friends who wished to get married.
In September 2010, Gaga denounced the U.S. military's “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy regarding homosexuals in the military as “wrong,” “unjust,” and “fundamentally … against all that we stand for as Americans.” Dismissing the opinions of “the Pentagon and senators such as John McCain,” who had claimed that openly gay soldiers would disrupt the cohesion and morale of the majority, Gaga said that such arguments were rooted in the unacceptable premise that “it’s OK to discriminate or discharge gay soldiers because we are homophobic, we are uncomfortable, and we do not agree with homosexuality.” “Wasn’t that the defense of Matthew Shepard’s murderers?” she asked rhetorically, citing the victim of a horrific 1998 homicide that gained national publicity as an alleged hate crime against a homosexual. (Evidence subsequently showed that Shepard was not killed because of his sexual orientation, but in fact was killed by two drug-crazed acquaintances—one of whom may have been his gay lover—in a dispute over money and narcotics.)
When Gaga, waving a rainbow flag, sang the “Star Spangled Banner” at a New York City gay-pride rally in the summer of 2013, she changed the last line of the song to: “Oh, say does that star-spangled flag of pride yet wave, o’er the land of the free, and a home for the gays.”
Gaga has also been outspoken on issues other than LGBT rights. In 2010, for instance, she forcefully denounced Arizona’s controversial new immigration law, SB 1070, which deputized state police to check with federal authorities on the immigration status of criminal suspects. The slogan “Stop SB 1070” was displayed prominently on Gaga's forearm during her July 31 concert in Arizona, where she told the audience about her recent encounter with a local boy “who is suffering” because “his house was raided because of a parking ticket or something.” “They [immigration authorities] took his brother,” Gaga continued, “and now he is in Mexico.... It’s really [unfair], and it’s really disgusting. I think it’s important that people understand that it’s a state of emergency for this place and this state.” “I'll tell you what we have to do about SB 1070,” she thundered. “We have to be active. We have to protest.... I will yell and I will scream louder and I will hold you, and we will hold each other, and we will peaceably protest this state. Because if it wasn't for all you immigrants, this country wouldn't have shit.”
At the California home of Facebook chief operating officer Cheryl Sandberg in September 2011, Gaga attended a $35,800-per-person political fundraiser for President Barack Obama's re-election campaign. On January 22, 2013, she performed at the White House Staff Ball celebrating the victorious Obama's second inauguration. And she showed her devotion to Obama yet again in early October 2013, when she issued tweets in support of Obamacare and its long-anticipated rollout, which would ultimately prove to be a model of bureaucratic ineptitude.
In June 2015, Gaga and Tony Bennett performed together at a New York City fundraiser for Hillary Clinton’s newly announced presidential campaign. When Gaga met Mrs. Clinton for the first time, the singer sported a “Yaaas Hillary” t-shirt.
As of mid-2015, Lady Gaga had a net worth of approximately $250 million.
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