Since it aired last week, Surviving R. Kelly — Dream Hampton’s probing Lifetime docuseries into the artist’s history of alleged abuse against women and girls — has given a megaphone to Kelly’s victims and may have even roused a Georgia D.A. to open a new investigation into their claims. Another key takeaway is the reaction of the music community itself, made up of many artists who continued to work with Kelly despite persistent rumors of abuse.
John Legend, on one hand, readily appeared in the series and denounced Kelly, tweeting, “I believe these women and don’t give a fuck about protecting a serial child rapist.” Hampton herself revealed that she’d asked artists like Lady Gaga, Erykah Badu, Jay-Z, and more to appear in the series, but they all declined.
Early Thursday morning (January 10), though, Gaga — who collaborated in Kelly in 2013 for the song “Do What U Want” — took to Twitter to clarify her stance: “I stand behind these women 1000%, believe them, know they are suffering and in pain, and feel strongly that their voices should be heard and taken seriously.”
Gaga called the allegations against Kelly “absolutely horrifying and indefensible” and after acknowledging that she, too, is the victim of sexual assault, she went in detail about the genesis of their joint song and video, which she said was created “at a dark time in my life.” “My intention was to create something extremely defiant and provocative because I was angry and still hadn’t processed the trauma that had occurred in my own life,” she wrote. The song’s single artwork and its unreleased video were both shot by Terry Richardson, who also has a long history of troubling sexual abuse allegations against him.
Gaga said she’s grown since then, in part because of therapy, and pledged to keep supporting “women, men, and people of all sexual identities, and of all races, who are victims of sexual assault.” The first step, for her, is removing “Do What U Want” from “iTunes and other streaming platforms.” She concluded her note with a vow to never work with Kelly again, and a message of love.
Elsewhere in the note, she writes, “Til it happens to you, you don’t know how it feels.” In 2015, she co-wrote and performed “Til It Happens To You” with Diane Warren for The Hunting Ground, a documentary about rape on college campuses. Kesha later covered it.
Read Gaga’s entire note above.