First we told you the exciting news that Lady Gaga’s Born This Way Foundation was having a poster contest, and then we showed you the ten finalists picked by Lady Gaga and her mom, Cynthia Germanotta. Then it was time for you all to vote. Who won this contest? Congrats to Kayleigh!! Gaga digs your artwork! WOW. Her poster shows a blurry image of two people kissing. One of the kissers is holding up a little paper that says, “Acceptance.” A simple yet strong poster!
"When we asked our community to create a visual representation of bravery, we had no idea that we would receive hundreds of amazing entries," said Cynthia Germanotta, president and co-founder of Born This Way Foundation (and Lady Gaga's mom!) “Kayleigh’s poster spoke most strongly to our supporters and we feel it does a great job of depicting the courage it takes to be yourself.”
Mother Monster and Grandmother Monster definitely like getting input from you. Now that the poster contest is over, they're moving on to a "youth-led initiative to create localized groups of supporters" and they're inviting you to help name it, because calling it a "club" doesn't have the right edge.
But we might be getting ahead of ourselves here. We wanted to talk to Kayleigh to learn about why she wanted to get involved with the Born This Way Foundation and her inspiration was for the poster. When Kayleigh talked to us, we saw what a deep-thinking and caring individual she is...the perfect fit for Lady Gaga’s foundation!
ACT: Why did you want to get involved with the foundation?
KAYLEIGH: I found out about this foundation from one of my Facebook friends. They had a status update asking people to watch the live streaming video of the Born This Way Foundation launch. It turned out to be an hour and 13 minutes long, but I watched the whole thing. I really liked what the foundation stood for. I liked the three pillars; bravery, acceptance, and love.
I've always thought that you couldn't just stop bullying, because people will act the way they want. But to empower the community and challenge society? It makes everyone look within themselves for a different light. I loved it. When one of my mom's friends approached me with entering my photo into the poster contest, I was really excited. It was completely on a whim and I never thought I'd win the contest, but I figured it would be a nice chance to show people what I thought the foundation stood for.
Photo: Lady Gaga with her mom Cynthia at the launch of the Born This Way Foundation. (E! Online)
ACT: What was the inspiration for your poster design?
KAYLEIGH: The inspiration for my poster design was actually based on some personal things that happened in my life and the lives around me. When my best friend came out of the closet, he was having a lot of trouble accepting himself. There was also very little support from his family and other friends. It ended up putting him in a really dark place in his life, not knowing whether or not his life was worth living. He was sent away for a while, in order to get better and in those two months I thought a lot about the people around us. No one should ever feel like their life isn't worth living and the fact that someone so close to me felt that hurt bothered me to no end. I took this picture to show him support; I put it on Facebook and it got over 300 likes in the span of two days.
On a broader note, the picture doesn't just represent the gay community. It represents acceptance of everybody, no matter who they love or what they do or who they are. There is a reason that the two people in the background are blurry. The picture is for everybody. It's ambiguous. It shows love, acceptance and bravery. Bravery for being yourself, love for loving who you want to no matter what and acceptance... something many people desire but never get.
ACT: What do you want viewers to take away from the poster?
KAYLEIGH: Everybody is going to see something different out of it. I want each viewer to walk away with the idea that it's okay to be themselves. Rather than changing who you are and finding acceptance, it's okay to be yourself and challenge others to accept you. Don't hide who you are because you're afraid of what others might think; those who accept you are your friends and those who don't shouldn't matter. If you don't like what you see in somebody else, I think you should either look inside yourself and try to keep an open mind, or just close your eyes. Everyone should have the opportunity to be happy by finding it inside themselves.
ACT: Did you try different designs before settling on this one?
KAYLEIGH: I didn't take the picture with the Born This Way Foundation in mind. I actually took it before the foundation started. I added the wording on it for the contest but somehow the picture fit exactly what I would have wanted to say anyways! When I took the picture, I knew I wanted to have the word "acceptance" in focus, and the two people would be blurry. I had the couple in the background hugging, kissing one on the forehead, just standing there, etc. Finally I decided that if I danced around what I wanted to say, my message wouldn't be so powerful. But it's just a kiss! I wouldn't say I settled on it, though. I took pictures until I found what I felt was the perfect one. It makes me happy every time I see it and I know it does that for others as well.
ACT: Do you know if Lady Gaga is going to be using this as the official BTW poster?
KAYLEIGH: All I know is that it will (and does) have a prominent place on the website. I know she's seen it! Other than that, I have no idea. It's pretty controversial but that's how I wanted it to be. Either it stirs good emotions or bad emotions, but it makes each viewer feel something!
Born This Way Foundation
Join Gaga's anti-bullying foundation!
Name BTWF's New Initiative
Name that club! Born This Way Foundation is launching community-based youth organizations nationwide and need a catchy name for it!