Harvard Goes Lady Gaga

Lady Gaga’s anti-bullying campaign got a whole lot more heft yesterday when she announced that she was starting the Born This Way Foundation, which was created in partnership with Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society, The California Foundation, and the John D. and Catherine T. McArthur Foundation. Gaga and her mother, Cynthia Germanotta, will oversee the BTWF, whose mission follows:

The nonprofit charitable organization will lead youth into a braver new society where each individual is accepted and loved as the person they were born to be. BTWF will focus on youth empowerment and equality by addressing issues like self-confidence, well-being, anti-bullying, mentoring and career development and will utilize digital mobilization as one of the means to create positive change.

All of which sounds fabulous — but still leaves me wondering — what exactly does that entail? While it’s admirable that Lady Gaga now apparently has the clout and confidence to establish and fund a foundation, it still isn’t clear to me exactly what “utilizing digital mobilization … to create positive change” will look like, particularly when it comes from the mind of the Gaga. In contrast, though, look at Dan Savage, the sex columnist and author who simply took his anti-bullying message to YouTube, creating the incredible It Gets Better project, which is now being translated into 15 languages, and has an active list of action items for those who want to help prevent suicide in LGBT teens. He didn’t need a foundation to get his message across, and yet the project has been one of the most powerful positive forces out there for combating homophobia.

Lady Gaga has both cultivated and embraced her role as a powerful advocate for gay rights (so much so that she appeared on The Advocate‘s cover this summer), but she’s also taken heat for using LGBT and bullying issues as a savvy marketing ploy. One hopes that her new foundation gives her the financial backing and intellectual oomph to work toward creating positive change. Who knows, perhaps Gaga will become the next Gates.