Lady Gaga has finally spoken out against R&B performer R Kelly as allegations of sexual and physical abuse mount against him.
The star broke her silence after coming under pressure to make a statement in the wake of a harrowing new six-part documentary series, Surviving R. Kelly, that has reignited the abuse claims.
Despite years of allegations against Kelly, Gaga – who has styled herself as an activist for queer and womens’ rights – bizarrely chose to work with him. In 2013, they released the unfortunately titled collaboration Do What U Want (With My Body) and performed it together on Saturday Night Live and at the American Music Awards.
At the time, she defended the relationship by arguing that, “R Kelly and I have sometimes had very untrue things written about us, so in a way this was a bond between us.”
Recently, Gaga came under renewed fire after it was revealed that she’d refused to be interviewed for the new documentary, which highlights the experiences of a number of Kelly’s alleged victims.
On Thursday, she released a statement on social media apologising for the collaboration and announcing that she would remove the track from streaming services.
“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 wrote.
“What I am hearing about the allegations against R Kelly is absolutely horrifying and indefensible. As a victim of sexual assault myself, I made both the song and the video 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. The song is called Do What U Want (With My Body). I think it’s clear how explicitly twisted my thinking was at the time.
“If I could go back and have a talk with my younger self I’d tell her to go through the therapy I have since then, so that I could understand the confused post-traumatic state that I was in – or if therapy was not available to me or anyone in my situation – to seek help, and speak as openly and honestly as possible about what we’ve been through.
“I can’t go back but I can go forward and continue to support women, men and people of all sexual identities, and of all races, who are victims of sexual assault.
“I intend to remove the song off iTunes and other streaming services and will not be working with him again. I’m sorry, both for my poor judgement when I was young, and for not speaking out sooner,” Gaga concluded.
Kelly has been accused of having sex with minors, including the then 15-year-old star Aaliyah, as well as abuse, predatory behavior, and running a sex cult. Surviving R. Kelly features “survivors and people from R. Kelly’s inner circle” who “are coming forward with new allegations about his sexual, mental, and physical abuse.”
In spite of the many claims, Kelly has denied all the accusations and has avoided serious consequences. The release of the documentary has, however, now sparked a new criminal investigation.