The 27-year-old singer took to the stage at New York City’s Gay Pride kick-off rally at Pier 26 on Friday night and gave a passionate speech in support of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. The star has been avoiding the public eye since cancelling her Born This Way Ball world tour to undergo surgery for a labral tear on her right hip in February, which left her temporarily wheelchair-bound.
Waving a rainbow flag in the air, Gaga broke into an acappella rendition of the National Anthem during her surprise on-stage appearance, which came the same day as an appeals court in California ruled that same-sex marriages in the state can begin immediately. She told the crowd: “I’m here tonight to honour my heroes and luckily I have many to look up to – and many to look at tonight … We want nothing less than every other American. We are not a niche, we are part – a big giant part – of humanity. We are the continuum. We are ongoing. We continue the spirit of the first official Gay rally in 1970 in New York, one year after Stonewall. And although this weekend is a time for victory, I am a citizen of New York and I demand the right to safe streets; the violence that has taken place against LGBTs is unacceptable, here and anywhere. Enough is enough.”
Gaga – who was greeted by chants of “we love you” by her fans – also said her past experiences of bullying had made her all the more determined to set an example to struggling teens. She added: “I wasn’t naturally thin like most of my female classmates. My Italian heritage showed its stronghold in my nose and I found it very, very hard during this time to maintain any healthy friendships and healthy sense of self. I’m here for the youth and to be a visible figure for them… to help them become the best individuals they can, with no limits on their potential, their future.”