The hallowed lectern at Harvard University's Sanders Theatre has, over the years, been graced by such speakers as Sir Winston Churchill, Theodore Roosevelt, Martin Luther King and Mikhail Gorbachev. Yesterday, a very different sort of global opinion-former joined their lofty ranks: Lady Gaga.
In a move which aims to propel her to the top table of celebrity humanitarians, the 25-year-old singer, composer and wearer of meat-based clothing tiptoed onstage to launch formally her Born This Way Foundation, an organisation dedicated to a range of human-rights causes.
Oprah Winfrey and Deepak Chopra were among the audience shoehorned into the auditorium last night to applaud Gaga's announcement of her foundation's official "manifesto".
As its name suggests, Born This Way intends to focus on the issues of homophobia, bullying and "lead[ing] youth into a braver new society, where each individual is accepted and loved as the person they were born to be". It will, in Gaga's words, attempt to "create a new culture of kindness, bravery, acceptance and empowerment" for young people.
But the foundation's launch was overshadowed by a simmering dispute over Harvard's attitude towards gay rights. The university is at loggerheads with campaigners seeking to secure posthumous degrees to seven former undergraduate students whom it expelled, in disgrace, almost a century ago on suspicion of being homosexual.
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