Although we here at The Gloss have debated Lady Gaga’s style plenty of times, there’s no denying that she has done a fantastic job speaking out for LGBT rights. As someone who is so passionate about a positive approach to sexuality, she also made appearances with fellow LGBT activist Cyndi Lauper to talk about the importance of safe sex. That’s why we’re incredibly disappointed to learn that Lady Gaga worked with photographer Terry Richardson, whom we exposed as a creep who intimidates and sexually harasses the models he works with. Richardson shot Gaga’s video message to the US Senate regarding the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy.
While it’s great that Gaga has used her fame to take a stand on this issue, it’s a shame that the person she chose to record her important message is someone who clearly doesn’t value sexuality. Writer Jamie Peck wrote an article for The Gloss in March about her experiences modeling for Richardson. In her story, she told about how Richardson got naked during their shoot, offered to make tea out of her bloody tampon, and coerced her into giving him a hand job. While we’re not going to flatter ourselves and think that Lady Gaga reads The Gloss (although we’d be thrilled if she did), the story was referenced in Page Six and became a hot discussion topic throughout print and online media, with other models coming forward with their own stories. The article is even linked on Richardson’s Wikipedia page. In other words, it’s not difficult to find out Richardson’s reputation, and it’s unfortunate that someone as feminist and pro-positive sexuality as Lady Gaga would choose to work with someone who doesn’t seem to feel the same way when the sexuality in question is those of young women who model for him.
Gaga, we agree with what you said about Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, and support the work that you’re doing. But we ask that you disavow Terry Richardson and never work with him again in the future. Trying to get across a very important message about sexual discrimination while allowing your message to be shot by someone who is known for sexually harassing women isn’t the right way to go. The fashion industry continuing to give Richardson work is only sending the message that what he did was okay. Lady Gaga, you have the ability to change that message as well. You have the ability to tell young women that it’s not acceptable for men in positions of authority to coerce them into sexual acts, and you can do that by denouncing Richardson and making sure you never work with him again. We’re counting on you.