The singer was joined by Oprah Winfrey, spiritual leader Deepak Chopra, and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to kick off the Born This Way Foundation that Gaga’s mother and inspiration will help steer.
Gaga spoke to more than 1,100 students from several states, faculty and invited guests at Harvard, urging the young audience to “challenge meanness and cruelty.”
“I believe that if you have revolutionary potential, you must make the world a better place and use it,” she said.
She reminded them that there is no law to make people be kind to one another and added: “I wish there was because, you know, I’d be chained naked to a fence somewhere trying to pass it.”
Late Wednesday, Gaga’s representative said the singer has made a $1.2 million personal contribution to the foundation, named after her 2011 album and hit song. The song promotes self-empowerment and has become an anthem for gay pride.
Winfrey said she supports the foundation because its message aligns with many of her core beliefs, including kindness, compassion, empowerment and acceptance. The famous talk-show host interviewed the singer on stage about the foundation.
Gaga, who has said she was the victim of bullying as a teenager, said the idea for the foundation grew out of the dialogue created after “Born This Way” was released. She said she received an onslaught of letters and emails from people who said such things as, “I want there to be more tolerance in the universe. I want there to be more acceptance.”
Gaga said her mother, Cynthia Germanotta, inspired her to start the foundation. Germanotta will serve as its president.
“She is the sole reason that I am here today. She has always believed in me. She has always been my support, and she makes me want to inject that sense of family and support into the world,” Gaga said.
The singer gave few specifics about how the foundation will operate.
She said the foundation is working with a new media agency to create a social media environment that fosters the foundation’s goals.
She said the “Born Brave Bus” will follow her tour bus around the country and will “welcome anyone from any walk of life” to “talk about love, acceptance, kindness” and other goals of the foundation.
“I want this to be an organization where you all feel involved,” she said.
Gaga, 25, known for her attention-getting fashion, wore a sleek, black backless dress, platform shoes and a tall black hat.
She repeatedly told the crowd that she does not have the answers for how to stop bullying and prevent violence. She urged students to go back to their communities and do “simple acts of kindness” to help foster acceptance, tolerance and individuality.