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Lady Gaga Wheelchair Act Raises Eyebrows


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Lady Gaga is ruffling feathers among some disability advocates yet again after she rolled out in a wheelchair during a performance this week in Sydney, Australia.

The pop singer, whose real name is Stefani Germanotta, appeared dressed as a mermaid while seated in a wheelchair to sing “You and I.”

Afterward, some advocates criticized the use of a wheelchair for performance purposes alone.

“I invite her to learn more about the 5.6 million Americans who live with paralysis,” Jesse Billauer, of the advocacy group Life Rolls On Foundation said in a statement to RadarOnline. “They, like me, unfortunately, don’t use a wheelchair for shock value.”

Not everyone was miffed, however. One Australian blogger who uses a wheelchair even offered up her own mobility device to Lady Gaga for her next show.

“As wheelchair users we celebrate our chairs in all sorts of ways all the time. If Lady Gaga wants in on that action, more power to her. She did, after all, have quite the mobility issue dressed as a mermaid,” wrote Stella Young.

The controversy comes just months after Lady Gaga apologized for offending people with disabilities when she used the word “retarded” during a magazine interview.

“I consider it part of my life’s work and music to push the boundaries of love and acceptance,” she said in a statement at the time. “To anyone that was hurt, please know that it was furiously unintentional.”

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Comments (9 Responses)

  1. ecurra19 says:

    Artists find their way however way, but Lady Gaga could have helped the community, which is significant figure in the United States and the World.

  2. pattyrocks says:

    Aa a woman with a disability, but not a wheelchair user, I find Lady Gaga’s use of a wheelchair in her show, a positive salute to the disability community, and a shout-out to Bette Midler from her popular and trail-blazing shows, of the late 1970s – 1980s, where she also performed one of her songs sitting in a wheelchair.

  3. msamericanpatriot says:

    All it was is a publicity stunt. She was told from the get go that she needed a gimmick and the wheelchair thing was just that, a gimmick. Sometimes I wonder if it aint Marilyn Mason in drag trying to have another go at a career. It is NOT a positive salute. It ranks right up there with the use of the “r” word and I am an individual with an intellectual disability here too. Her 15 minutes of fame are about over and she knows it.

  4. CharlieB74 says:

    Good job Gaga! You know it presents an awareness many in the world try to avoid. at least she attempts to demonstrate acceptance.

    If advocates are angry, then why are they not upset about children playing in chairs, or even the use in hospitals to let a person leave?

    This is a positive thing for her to use the chair. Maybe instead of walking around the next person they meet in a chair, they may stop and intriduce themself. Advocates need to work on more meaningful topics like employment and independent living.

    Gaga just showed anything is possible in a chair. Heck, earlier did this magazine not publish an article about a sight impaired person being portrayed by some one who can see No outrage there.

  5. Thur Annfin says:

    Pattyrocks is right — The Lady is paying a much deserved homage to Bette Midler who also received criticism for performing in a mermaid costume in a wheelchair. I remember someone asking Midler about it in an interview and she explained that she hadn’t started out with the idea for the wheelchair but that it came about after she realized that it was impossible to walk in a mermaid fin and it dawned on her that mermaids would actually be handicapped on dry land.

    God-love-her, there was a time in my life when I would have been willing to convert to lesbianism if I had a chance with Her Divine-ness.

    I think that people outside the disability community get more worked up over things like this than those of us who actually use wheelchairs. It’s good art and perversely funny!

  6. vmgillen says:

    I am continually amused by the sight of my son’s AB friends using his “beater” chairs to play wheelchair basketball with him… to me, this is a huge sign of acceptance. I think Lady Gaga puts on a show, especially when she’s putting on a show. I don’t have a problem with this, per se.

  7. Spokes says:

    Not a fan of the GaGa, but wasn’t offended when Bette did a similar (and better) mermaid bit in her shows.

    As a chair-user for over 30 years, I find absolutely nothing wrong with her using a chair as a prop, so long as she is not perpetuating old myths and stereotypes (pity, inability, lack of contribution, etc.).

    It would’ve been better if GaGa had at least used a new, light-weight “cool” wheelchair rather than an ancient E&J, but there is no accounting for taste.

  8. bodey041 says:

    @msamericanpatriot: Fortunately for the rest of us, you don’t speak for us. You are welcome to speak for yourself, but don’t think for one second your attitudes are those of individuals with disabilities or their advocates. While you are correct this is a publicity stunt, it was in poor tasted and should not in any way be condoned. Buy the way, the majority of the community does despise the “r” word.

  9. bodey041 says:

    Those you are not necessarily offended by this “stunt” should read “Lady Gaga Takes Heat For ‘Retarded’ Comment.” Her intention is not the issue. The act itself is an insult.

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