“I’m beautiful in my own way,
‘Cause God makes no mistakes.
I’m on the right track, baby,
I was born this way.”
It’s wild to think that it’s already been 10 years since Lady Gaga released her groundbreaking album, Born This Way. A decade should bring about personal growth and maturity, so I recently revisited the titular track and uncovered new meanings that I hadn’t seen before.
Lady Gaga’s Catholic Faith
Lady Gaga has been open about her Catholic faith and upbringing in the past. Some would claim that she doesn’t fit the traditional narrative of what it means to be a Catholic - but she is her authentic self, who shares her love for Jesus while also sharing her struggles. It is not in our place to deem her unworthy of God’s love or to say that the Holy Spirit can’t work through her.
Regardless of our opinions about her faith, it’s worthwhile to focus on what is True about Lady Gaga and each one of us: That we hold inherent dignity and worth, and that we are unequivocally loved by God the Creator.
Born This Way through a new lens
With this in mind, let’s revisit Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way” through a compassionate, Catholic lens. This anthem celebrates the dignity of all people, reclaiming their worth despite the prejudices that others may have against them.
In her lyrics, Lady Gaga highlights people in various marginalized groups:
“No matter gay, straight, or bi / Lesbian, transgender life...”
“Whether you’re broke or evergreen...”
“Whether life’s disabilities
Left you outcast, bullied, or teased
Rejoice and love yourself today
‘Cause baby, you were born this way.”
This song affirms that each person is created in God’s image and worthy of love - not just the love of others, but also appropriate self-love. It can be hard to learn to love yourself if members of the Church you have grown up in don’t treat you accordingly. That’s why we, as members of the Body of Christ, have a duty to affirm - in word and action - the inherent dignity of each of our brothers and sisters, of all walks of life.
Born This Way as a call to action
Born This Way used to be my personal anthem, encouraging my own self-acceptance. However, today, it leaves me with a new call to action, no longer just about myself, but about upholding the dignity of others. Who in my community is not being valued or affirmed? Who are the people in society that continue to be ostracized or demoralized?
Every day, we’re flooded with headlines about tragedies and injustices happening both in our communities and around the world. Catholic Social Teaching tells us that we are called to be in solidarity with those who are suffering or oppressed because we are all members of the same human family. To answer that call, perhaps we can volunteer at a local crisis pregnancy center, donate to organizations helping our Haitian brothers and sisters who are displaced after the earthquake, or host donation drives for items needed at our local homeless shelter. Jesus “was moved with compassion” when he encountered, often unexpectedly, people who were in need of healing or mercy (Matthew 9:36) - and He was moved to action.
Pope Francis tells us that,
The decision to include or exclude those lying wounded along the roadside can serve as a criterion for judging every economic, political, social and religious project. Each day we have to decide whether to be Good Samaritans or indifferent bystanders [...] All of us have in ourselves something of the wounded man, something of the robber, something of the passers-by, and something of the Good Samaritan. (Fratelli Tutti, 69)
Who are you in this timeless story? Who do you want to be? The story from Scripture reminds us that we belong to one another, despite how different we may be.
Regardless of whether we agree or disagree with Lady Gaga’s lifestyle and beliefs, we can hear an important reminder in “Born This Way”: Each person is good and worthy of love.