R. Kelly is featured on Gaga's 2013 Artpop single "Do What U Want" — a move that, even at the time, was controversial. Thanks to Surviving R. Kelly, the docuseries about Kelly's alleged abuse, accusations of sexual misconduct against Kelly that date back to the '90s have resurfaced. A music video for the song, which was never released and allegedly featured NSFW content, was directed by Terry Richardson, who also has a slew of sexual misconduct accusations against him. Fans specifically want Lady Gaga to denounce Kelly's actions. The star has thus far stayed silent about the accusations.
Lifetime's docuseries gave the opportunity to Kelly's victims to show how he allegedly used his power and clout to physically, sexually, and emotionally abuse women. Kelly has vehemently denied all accusations, while collaborators like Chance the Rapper and music industry peers like John Legend have spoken out against him.
Many see Gaga's silence on Kelly as antithetical to her professed support of survivors.
A supporter of the #MeToo and Time's Up movements, Gaga has long been very outspoken about sexual assault awareness. The singer talked about being a rape survivor on Howard Stern's radio show in 2014, and, in 2015, released the song "Til It Happens To You" for campus rape documentary The Hunting Ground. The Star Is Born actress performed the song at the 2016 Oscars, sharing the stage with dozens of fellow sexual assault survivors. Gaga also publicly stood by Kesha, who accused producer Dr. Luke of sexual assault.
Lady Gaga just won a Golden Globe for a mediocre song and she's yet to explain what the fuck she was doing with that whole disgusting R Kelly collaboration from 2013. She stands with survivors when they're not Black girls I guess? #SurvivingRKelly #GoldenGlobes #GoldenGlobes2019— Kevin Allred (@KevinAllred) January 7, 2019
Lady Gaga is why I won’t take celebrities political movements seriously. Made a song called “do what u want” with R.kelly in 2013)m(!) you cant be like hashtag hashtag when you still haven’t denounced him or said WHY u came out with that song AFTER everything we know !!!!— Jonesy (@Jonez_e) January 3, 2019
Given Gaga's huge platform and history discussing these issues publicly, it's understandable why fans are frustrated. Gaga's is a voice that gets people to listen about the aftermath of sexual violence — but whether she will ever speak for Kelly's alleged survivors is yet to be seen.
Refinery29 has reached out to Gaga for comment.