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Carl Bean, singer of LGBTQ anthem ‘I Was Born This Way’, dies aged 77

The gospel singer, minister and activist's 1977 track inspired Lady Gaga's 'Born This Way'.

By Alastair James

Words: Alastair James; pictures: YouTube/Simon and Schuster

The man who inspired Lady Gaga’s iconic anthem to self-love, ‘Born This Way’, has died. Archbishop Carl Bean, who was 77, died on Tuesday (7 September) according to the church he helped set up.

The Unity Fellowship Church (UFC) said in a statement posted online that the Aids activist, minister, and gospel singer died after a lengthy illness.

Lady Gaga has personally recognised Bean’s influence on her iconic track, including during the celebrations of the album of the same name earlier this year.


Listing Carl Bean’s various accomplishments, the UFC’s statement, which is titled “THE GIANT SLEEPS”, describes Bean as someone who “worked tirelessly for the liberation of the undeserved and for LGBTQ people of faith, and in doing so, helped many people around the world find their way back to spirituality and religion.”

It lists Bean as a noted speaker, as well as having set up the UFC, the Minority Aids Project in Los Angeles, and also being a recording artist having released ‘I Was Born This Way’ in 1977 with Motown Records.

The statement continues; “Our hearts go out to all as we mourn the loss of this trailblazing leader and legend in the worlds of activism, advocacy, Aids, community outreach, faith, liberation theology and so much more.”

Finally, it says details of a memorial service will be forthcoming, which will celebrate Carl’s legacy, “and how he liberated us with the mantra ‘GOD IS LOVE AND LOVE IS FOR EVERYONE’.”

NME reports that Bean was born in Baltimore in 1944. At 16 he went to New York City to escape a difficult home life – claiming he was sexually abused by his uncle and that his family rejected him for being gay. Moving to LA to become a gospel singing he formed the band Carl Bean and the Universal Love. He was ordained as a minister in 1982 and set up the Minority Aids project three years later.

Celebrating the 10-year anniversary of her Born This Way album in May, Lady Gaga thanked Bean for his influence and “Thank you for decades of relentless love, bravery, and a reason to sing. So we can all feel joy because we deserve joy. Because we deserve the right to inspire tolerance, acceptance, and freedom for all.”

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