Thousands of Little Roman Monsters put their paws up on Saturday night. That's because Lady Gaga performed at Europride, the annual, pan-European gay pride event held this year in the Italian capital.

For Gaga, who has dedicated herself to gay rights on stage and off, Europride became an especially personal affair. In a nearly twenty-minute speech she gave before performing heartfelt acoustic renderings of "Born This Way" and "The Edge of Glory," she not only proudly identified her Italian heritage, but did something highly unusual for Gaga: in front of thousands at the ancient Circus Maximus she called herself by her birth name, Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta.

Check out the video of her speech and her performance here:

Even though sporting a teal-colored bob and clad in a tent-like Gianni Versace gown, she clearly wanted to drop some of her masquerade and speak from the heart, as she has lately on The View and elsewhere, opening up about her own history of bullying in high school.

For those with any lingering doubt over her priorities, she declared, "It has become clear to me that my greater mission is to be part of the joyous mobilization of the LGBT community worldwide."

Indeed, Europride is just the latest in a string of gay-rights endeavors in which she's participated: In the past, she's donated proceeds from her Monster Ball tour to charities benefiting homeless gay teenagers. Last September, she arrived at the MTV Video Music Awards escorted by former soldiers kicked out of the U.S. Military because of the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell Policy." She then later exchanged a series of tweets with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on ending DADT and spoke at a rally in Maine.

During her speech she criticized the U.S. government's fuzzy attitude toward gay rights, citing the "[negative] effect that the denial of gay marriage has on real families worldwide." She also pinpointed Russia, Poland, Lithuania, Hungary, and Lebanon as other offenders. Her Lebanon shout-out may have been a covert reference to the Middle Eastern nation's General Secretary Department recently impounding shipments of her new No. 1 album, Born This Way, for being "offensive to Christianity" and in "bad taste." To those countries, she said "For some governments gay rights are not a political or social priority, and the principles of non-discrimination are ambiguous."

Officials in Rome feared that Gaga would criticized Pope Benedict and the Vatican for their stance against homosexuality. However, she was careful to avoid any direct mention of the Catholic Church in her speech.

Only in the long run will we know whether her pop-and-platitudes-driven advocacy can have a demonstrable effect. But, for now, it's the effort that's admirable.

Considering the apathy about gay rights–or any particular issue, for that matter–that's commonplace among most other stars of comparable wattage, her sincerity is refreshing. What think you, Music Mixers? Can Gaga meaningfully affect the gay rights movement?

The Music Mix on Twitter: @EWMusicMix

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