Ricky Martin for The Advocate.
Perhaps Madonna wasn’t the only one to “confuse” her personal treatment with that of gay men. The feeling was mutual. As she exploded in popularity Madonna became identified with the collective gay male sense of self. So when she moved on, devoting less and less time to her gay compatriots, many felt a twinge of abandonment. That’s when bitching about Madonna became the great gay pastime.
“I never left them,” insists Madonna, echoing a lyric from Evita. “When you’re single, you certainly have more time to socialize and hang out with your gay friends, but then you get married and you have a husband and you have children, and your husband wants you to spend time with him. I’m not married anymore, but I have four kids, and I don’t have a lot of time for socializing.” She’s been back in New York for two years, after splitting with Ritchie.
“I hope nobody’s taking that personally. It certainly was not a conscious decision. As it stands, most of my friends in England are gay. But I’m back,” she says, adding reassuringly, “Never fear.”
To many fans, that symbiosis has the outward appearance of the relationship Madonna had with her gay fans earlier in her career. Gaga has an intertwined dependence in which her fans’ pain and alienation are bound up with her own. Perhaps every generation gets the gay icon it needs. For today’s wave of queer youth, it’s Gaga, who is spreading the antibullying gospel. But she has undoubtedly taken cues from the Madonna playbook. Whether she’s singing the “Express Yourself” — reminiscent “Born This Way” or producing her Truth or Dare-like HBO concert film, Gaga is following a trail that Madonna blazed.