“Lady Gaga came to our Harlem drop-in center early the next afternoon, arriving with her mother, Cynthia, and two huge SUVs packed with gifts. Again, the kids had no idea what was about to unfold …

“The next few hours were an extravaganza. First Gaga, her mother, and her assistants organized the huge piles of scarves, hats, socks, and makeup, handing them out to all the individual youths, some of whom continued crying, while others held up their phones to film the spectacle. As she handed out the gifts, many of the youths stammered out confessions of their undying devotion.

“ 'When my parents pushed me out for being gay, all I had was you, and Born This Way on auto-repeat,' one bearded young man told Gaga. She hugged him, and tears streamed from his mascara-lined eyes.

“ 'Thank you for being alive,' she said as the two emerged from their embrace.”