Haga clic aquí para español: Iniciando un Movimiento: La Fundación Born This Way

Just what is the Born This Way Foundation, the organization started by pop superstar Lady Gaga and her mother, Cynthia Germanotta? What do they hope to achieve? Today I got some answers to these questions and discovered that this new organization’s goals are very much in alignment with VenusPlusX’s mission of cultural change towards love, acceptance, and sexual freedom.

The Born This Way Foundation had their launch event this week, on the Leap Day of 2012, February 29, at Harvard University. The event was filmed and streamed live on YouTube, with people tuning in from all around the world. I took some screen shots of the comments in Japanese, English, French, Spanish, and many other languages showing up in real-time next to the live stream.

The event began with cultural icon Oprah Winfrey, who introduced and interviewed Lady Gaga about the Foundation. Oprah noted that she only comes out and speaks for causes she really believes in, and how the Born This Way Foundation speaks to her core beliefs of kindness, compassion, acceptance, and empowerment.

After Oprah’s talk with Lady Gaga, a “courtroom-style” panel of experts was assembled to ask Lady Gaga what the Born This Way Foundation is about and what it plans to do. This panel included world-famed medical doctor Deepak Chopra, Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius, openly gay actor and father David Burtka, psychology professor and bullying researcher Dr. Susan Swearer, and a representative of empowered youth Alyssa Rodemeyer, who works to make her school a better place even after her younger brother was essentially bullied to death because of his sexuality.

At the end of the event, members of the audience asked Lady Gaga their own questions about the Foundation, including one young man who proudly identified himself as transgender.

Let me share with you what I learned about the Born This Way movement, what the Born This Way Foundation is, and how they plan to achieve their goals.

Safety, Skills, Opportunity

These are the three pillars of the Born This Way Foundation. To paraphrase Lady Gaga’s words, the Born This Way Foundation’s goals are:

For everyone to feel safe to be themselves in their community; in their school and at home.

To help youth develop the skills to be empowered and speak up, and to be loving, kind, and tolerant.

And to give youth the opportunities to be leaders in their communities, empowering them to teach these skills to others and bring safety to their environment.

While the Born This Way Foundation wants to be inclusive of all people, these goals are particularly important for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer people (LGBTQ), who face a lot of hatred and danger everyday and all across the globe.

Empowering Youth

Lady Gaga was especially clear that the Born This Way Foundation is not an “anti-bullying” organization, but rather, a youth empowerment organization. She explained that “bullies” are people with inner turmoil as well, and that we need to focus on helping them become better people in addition to empowering the victims of bullying.

The power that youth have to make a difference was emphasized. They discussed research that shows how victims of bullying who have at least one supportive friend tend to have much better outcomes than those who aren’t supported by brave peers. “This is about changing the climate of the school environment and not putting the power in the hands of the teachers or the government … I don’t believe that they have the answers, I believe that you do,” was one of Lady Gaga’s more powerful statements on youth empowerment during the event.

To that end, the Born This Way Foundation will be having events around the country for youth, including gatherings at the Foundation’s outreach initiative, the Born Brave Bus.

"The Born To Be Brave Bus parked at Harvard University. Credit goes to @joshclapp14 for this image."

This bus will be following Lady Gaga’s actual tour bus around the country. It will welcome anyone from any walk of life to come and hang out and talk about love, acceptance, kindness, and encourage youth to share their stories. “The best thing about it is it’s going to be fun,” Gaga announced proudly.

Culture of Love

In addition to having in-person youth-centered events, the Born This Way Foundation will be working to create a digital movement to reach a larger number of people with its goals of safety, skills, and opportunity. Lady Gaga said she wants to make it cool for youth to be aware of and outspoken about what’s going on with their peers and their communities. They discussed the importance of acts of bravery and kindness.

Lady Gaga made it clear that there was no simple solution to the problems of hatred and violence that youth deal with today. It requires a shift in our culture that can only be made possible with the actions and support of society as a whole, starting with its youth. It will take time and the ideas and voices of many. This is why they call it the Born This Way “movement,” because what they are trying to accomplish is very broad and ambitious. This is why their tagline is “A kinder, braver world.”

The Importance of Research and Awareness Cynthia Germanotta, Lady Gaga’s mother, spoke of how the work the Born This Way Foundation is doing will be grounded in the research of experts. Later, Lady Gaga went on to explain how these experts include young people themselves, as well as established academics and researchers. She talked about the need for “psychological autopsies” of bullies, to better understand where the violence and abuse youth deal with comes from and, therefore, how to stop it.

She gave a striking example in the case of the Columbine shootings, where there were many visible warning signs of violence and mental turmoil, including an essay one of the shooters turned in about a dream he had in which he did violent things in school. Despite these signs, no teacher or student spoke up or reached out to the shooters. The Foundation wants to understand and explain why these signs are ignored and figure out preventative measures that can be taken so tragedies like these don’t continue to happen. Scientific research can tell us how to find the most effective solutions.

VenusPlusX and The Born This Way Foundation

VenusPlusX and the Born This Way Foundation have a lot in common. At VenusPlusX we empower minorities from all walks of life to speak up and we provide a platform for their voice. This is especially true for queer youth, such as myself, who have been given an opportunity to express their thoughts and grow thanks to VenusPlusX. Everyone here strongly supports the Born This Way Foundation’s efforts to create a social movement, ushering in a kinder, braver world, just as we are working to usher in a new age of sexual freedom. The goals of kindness, acceptance, and empowerment are inextricably tied to the goals of sexual freedom, and I look forward to the work that both our organizations will do to make our global society truly great.