By Isabel Jones
Updated: Mar 06, 2019 @ 11:42 am

In 2013, Lady Gaga did something that would be unthinkable today: she collaborated with R. Kelly.

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Gaga’s Artpop featured the singer on the painfully on the nose track “Do What U Want.”

Even at the time, working with Kelly was a pretty radical decision. Though he’d been acquitted on child pornography charges five years prior, Kelly retained an unsavory reputation.

Gaga led Kelly’s redemption tour with their collaboration, explaining during a press conference that they’d bonded over the rumors that followed both of their careers. “R. Kelly and I have sometimes very untrue things written about us, so in a way this was a bond between us," she told reporters. "That we were able to say, the public, they can have our bodies, but they cannot have our mind or our heart. It was a really natural collaboration."

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Nearly six years later, the release of Lifetime’s docuseries Surviving R. Kelly (which serves up a slew of allegations against the rapper), has reinforced and strengthened the public’s distrust of the singer. Gaga, along with many other prominent members of the industry, reportedly declined to participate in the series. 

And while Gaga continues along the awards circuit, praising the only person in the room who believes in her, fans and reporters alike are wondering when (or if) she’ll be speaking out against her former collaborator.

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It's doubly confusing that Gaga has yet to release a statement considering how outspoken she is when it comes to her own experiences with sexual abuse. In 2014 she revealed that she’d been raped at 19 years old, and has since been an active advocate for victims of sexual assault. In 2016 she was nominated for an Academy Award for “Til It Happens to You,” a song she co-wrote for The Hunting Ground, a documentary about sexual abuse on college campuses.

Though it seems squarely in Gaga’s wheelhouse to speak out against Kelly, an argument can be made for the opposite as well. It’s not her responsibility to vet her every collaborator (though maybe next time she’ll be a little more choosy). Whereas some celebrities may feel it’s their duty to condemn Kelly, perhaps Gaga is trying to quietly put the experience behind her.