All Articles Tagged "gays"
Recently, the Huffington Post Black Voices section published a provocative piece entitled, “It’s Official: Gay is the New Black.” In it, Writer Monique Ruffin writes about the somewhat tenuous relationship between the gay rights community and the black community, particularly the black church and argues that there are parallels between the fight against racial discrimination and equal rights for the LGBT community under the law. She said, “Gay is the new black, sadly, because many blacks haven’t been willing to embrace their own practices, secrets, fear, and shame about homosexuality. Many blacks have not been able to reconcile their real-life experience with their faith, and until they do this, they are oppressed people who are also practicing the oppression of others.”
While I agree partially with the sentiment of this piece, it does kind of remind me of the scene from The Wiz when Dorothy (played by Diana Ross) and the gang enter the Emerald City to an awaiting spectacle of dancers, who looked like they stepped right out of a 1970s Ebony Magazine’s Fashion Fair spread. The dancers in full regale, boogie around the city to a chorus of “I. Want to Seen. Green. I. Wouldn’t be caught. Dead. Red.” That is until an announcement from the great, powerful and unseen OZ blares over the loud speakers and says, “I thought about it and green is dead and I changed my mind and the color is red.” Then the whole Emerald City suddenly transforms to a dazzling spectacular of red sequin and gardenza as the same dancers two-step around the pavilion, saying, “I wouldn’t be seen green. You got to be dead red…”
In other words, in this presumably “post-racial” era it’s easy for some to assume that racism doesn’t matter as much in comparison to other social issues. However, despite the rather catchiness of the phrase, gay is not the new black because black is still black.
Of course this isn’t the first time this declaration has been made. As the battle for gay rights issues such as marriage equality have intensified so have the comparisons of the gay rights movement to the Black Civil Rights movement of the 60s. And when Proposition 8 passed in California, gay rights advocates, as well as the mainstream press, were quick to place the blame squarely on the Black community, even as Blacks made up less than 10 percent of total voters. The meme, for whatever reason, caught on, and now the Black community has largely been viewed by the mainstream as homophobic and intolerant.
This is not to suggest that homophobia does not exist in Black community. However I frankly get sick and tired of myself, my friends and my family carrying the weight for something we are not. Perception wise, being gay is no different than being a Republican in the community; some folks may not like it but it damn sure hasn’t stopped Hakeem and his boyfriend, nor Uncle Walt and his “George Bush was a Great Man” political views from coming to the family dinner.
Black folks, like the rest of humanity, are complex beings. This broad brush strokes that we as black folks are more homophobic than the rest of society is a bit deceitful, if not dangerously divisive. Likewise, It’s easy to pick on the black community because it lacks social power and political voice to really fight back than it is to strike out at the real power structures like Congress, State Assemblies and anti-gay, and mostly white, lobbying organizations, and the Church, which are far more influential in deciding who gets married and who doesn’t.
Moreover, I am a little perplexed at how so much attention is given in the press to homophobia in the Black community while ignoring the racial prejudices that have become so normalized in the LGBT and the mainstream community as a whole. While gay advocates and legislatures in New York were likely patting themselves on for their victory in making that state the sixth state to pass a same sex marriage law, there was certainly a deafening silence from many of the same folks about how that state’s biggest city continued its draconian stop-and-frisk practice of rounding up Blacks and Latinos (gay, straight and otherwise) for marijuana arrests.
During a recent interview, the Bronx native shared his thoughts about the circumstances around the recent arrest of Mister Cee, former Hot 97 DJ, who was allegedly caught with a transgender prostitute. The Bronx rapper told Vlad TV that “Whatever his preference is, it’s up to him. I’m not here to tell him what’s right or wrong.” On questions about whether or not he believes that there were gay rappers “hiding” in hip-hop, Joe unleashed with a litany of some of the most profound quotables on gay rights including: “I’m pretty sure I’ve done songs with gay rappers,” he continued. “I’m pretty sure of that. I’m pretty sure the football ni–as is gay, the basketball ni–as is… ni–as is gay….There’s millions of gay people in the world, girls too,” Joey Crack further went on to say; “…I think its 2011, going on 2012. So if you gay, rep your set.”
With that homophobia in hip-hop has been banished. No but for real, Joe and his Elton John moment has gotten lots of praise from folks both within and outside of the hip-hop community. Although, within the same interview he did manage to go off on a tangent about some conspiracy theory about the “gay mafia” running hip-hop.
Nevertheless many folks have come to see Joe’s endorsement of gay acceptance and tolerance within hip-hop as a progressive milestone, signifying the first step in changing an environment, which has appeared to be hostile to the LBGT community. I mean, how often do you see a rapper, whose entire image is based around the most hyper-masculine, gangster image come out and support being openly gay in hip-hop? But Joe isn’t the first rapper of late to flex his gay friendly muscles.
In September, Game, formerly The Game, said in an interview that not only does he not have a problem with gay rappers but also believes he may have already collaborated with closeted rappers before. Around that same time, Lil B aka The Based God released an album titled, “I’m Gay,” to the confusion and angst of most in his fan base. And then there is Kanye West, who has long (well since 2005) been a vocal critic of the negative connotations associated with “gay” within hip-hop lexicon. His revelation, he said, spawned from his discovery that his favorite cousin was gay and he believes that it’s time for the culture to become more open-minded.
So with this rather broad acceptance of the gay community from at least among some members of hip hop community, is it still fair to believe that the genre of music and its accompanying culture still deserve its perception of being a hostile place for openly gay rappers?
There have long been stories and rumors kicked around about homosexuality among the genre’s biggest emcees but no one has ever actually come out the closet. However, there are a number of openly gay underground rappers making some noise but that noise is mostly hidden inside of the LBGT circles. Bringing an openly gay hip-hop artist to the mainstream is another beast altogether. And we can’t ignore the major freak out that happens among fans when news broke about Mister Cee’s off-wax exploits with a male prostitute. Besides Mister Cee himself, who took to Twitter to adamantly deny the incriminating allegations against him, fellow Hot 97 DJ Funk Masta Flex vehemently defended not only Mister Cee from the allegations but also his sexuality.
Nothing compared to fan reactions to the scandal, which went beyond the shits and giggles reaction that I and a few other friends had. On various social networking sites and on radio programming, fans of hip-hop broke out into rants and raves about gays and their deviant behavior, cited Biblical versus against homosexuality, sending out death threats and filling their streams with a good bit of the expected homophobia and transphobia. These are the fans, who upon hearing the news about their beloved DJ, immediately wrote him off and his legacy.
So perhaps the idea of an openly gay hip hop artist doesn’t have to do so much with their fellow rappers but the audience itself. As hip-hop album sales continue to lag you might began to see why a gay rapper would be reluctant to come out and face the music.
However, with the record sales dragging somewhat among the most loyal, and sometimes homophobic, older audience, perhaps there is room to build a new audience. Some hip-hop artists have learned that there is money to be made in a gay market. Artist such as Nicki Minaj have written songs about having sexual relations with other women and has become a great supporter for queer youth. And if there is money to be made from embracing the gay community, I sure we can expect to see more rappers come out in the near future singing to a different tune.
I don’t believe that hip hop is any more homophobic than the rest of American society, just more blatant in its language and bravado. Even though the thug and gangster mentality is so prevalent and it is very common to hear rappers clown each other with some very anti-gay rhetoric, the last time I checked there were no rappers in Congress blocking and stonewalling against critical gay rights issues. Likewise, as the business end of hip-hop remains the dominating factor as to what gets heard, promoted and brought, the paradigm will ultimately have to shift to embrace a newer, more tolerant fan base. Because at the end of the day, it’s still all about the Benjamins.
Charing Ball is the author of the blog People, Places & Things.
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Do you ever find yourself bogged down by stereotypes so much that you start to see the bigot in yourself? I found myself in this dilemma recently, 2 weeks ago to be exact. In my spare time I like to peruse the “black love is a beautiful thing” tumblr page for all their healthy images of black love. There’s something magical about seeing black men dotting over black women, that whole restoration of the black family tends to get me every time. However, a few weeks ago they were showcasing photos of homosexual couples, two black men loving each other or two black women. The photos filled up my tumblr timeline and my face scrunched up like o_0.
Now for the record, I typically align myself with progressives and see the fight for ‘gay rights’ as a human rights issue. While I’m not marching, bearing a rainbow flag I have been known to be in support of gay rights and I’ve had countless debates about the need to support gay rights efforts. So why the scrunched up face when a website who works to show healthy images of black couples chooses to show homosexual couples as well as heterosexual couples? It’s because my definition of black love was very narrow and only included relationships that consist of men and women, black men and black women!
I felt bad about my initial reaction because in that moment I knew that I was just as big of a bigot as those who would like gays to keep their sexual preference to themselves in the military. My prejudice was no better than heterosexuals who want to push the gay lifestyle to far corners of the earth while purposely flaunting their “normal” sexcapades and relationships for everyone to see.
Black love is subjective. I can no more claim the title of black love because I date women more than a brother who is in love with other men. While I know this is a sensitive topic because of the media hyped phenomena of the down low brother and the many sisters who feel suitable mates are simply non-existent due to homosexuality, and incarceration stats of black men. Those are different topics entirely, I’m speaking specifically about the core of love, the joy of companionship. Whether it’s male/female, female/female, male/male, we all have a right to love and if we’re black, we desperately need that love because God knows we’ve been dealing with trauma for centuries.
While I’m sure my sexual orientation still holds some biases. When I think of the black family I’m more often than not going to imagine something that looks similar to the Obama’s rather than (insert famous black homosexual) his/her lover and their potential to adopt or find an alternative way to have children. But I do recognize that ‘black love’ is not solely resigned to black couples who fit societies norms, black love is varied and all that 2 people need to be involved in black love is that they be unashamedly black, proud and in love. What do you think, do you have a bias of what black love is?
When I first heard about, then subsequently read the letter, written by Dr. Robert Franklin, president of Morehouse College, to his alumni about the forthcoming Mean Girls of Morehouse story, featured in this month’s Vibe Magazine, I kind of understood where he was coming from.
A story centered on the year-old Appropriate Attire Policy, instituted by the 143-year old all male institution, seemed likely to fan the flames of the gay rights movement. After reading the actual article, and then Dr. Franklin’s letter again, I am definitely convinced that there is something more happening, which needs to be addressed.
If you haven’t read the piece, the article highlighted a few Morehouse students, known sort of affectionately as the Plastics (hence the Mean Girls reference), who represent the small gay and gender-bending group on the University’s campus. These students’ preference for heels, makeup and expensive handbags has put them at odds with the recently instituted dress policy, which among other things, bans the wearing of feminine clothing like dresses, tunics, purses and high heeled pumps.
After much public outcry, Dr. Franklin and his staff defended the policy with claims that it was intended to produce leaders like Martin Luther King, Samuel Jackson and Spike Lee. Interesting considering that the only three things the they have in common are that they are male, graduates of Morehouse and apparently straight. However, Morehouse College is a private educational institution and it reserves the right to set the kind of standards that it feels is proper for the students in attendance.
Yet I still can’t help but think that Dr. Franklin, the staff and some of the student body are totally missing out on what could be a valuable teachable moment. As an institution of higher learning, which prides itself on building leaders, I find it odd that the College is pushing for a dress policy, which only seeks to reinforce the strict and narrow definitions of manhood.
As the University’s vice president of student affairs believed that the issue centers exclusively around “five students who are living a gay lifestyle that is leading them to dress a way we do not expect in Morehouse men,” the message is clear: it is more important that men adhere to hyper-masculine representations of manhood, without giving credence to the overall character development of these young men on the inside.
Instead of focusing on how we could get these gender-bending men to follow the pack, a more appropriate approach could have been to have open campus-wide dialog on the strict codes of masculinity and show these future leaders that there are many ways to be a man. The rules of masculinity are not only tough on young men, who are gay, but also young men, including the non-athletic, the creative and the financial challenged, who simply don’t fit the traditional mold of manhood.
Much like all-women colleges and universities, which encourages women to explore and challenge all aspects of femininity, all-men colleges and universities, should also be providing the same safe environment for all of its young student body. Whether its gender bending or some other shallow reference to manhood (such as baggy jeans and doo-rags, which the University has also banned), I think that it is important that young men feel supported, acknowledged and valued, without criticism, or insecurity.
Perhaps this change of approach could have spared Gregory Love, a Morehouse man, who was savagely beaten with an aluminum baseball bat by fellow student Aaron Price, who didn’t take too kindly to the apparent sexual attention from Love. Perhaps if Price would have been properly guided by the elders on campus to not feel threatened or emasculated by attention from the same sex, Price would have been prepared to deal with the countless other “differences” in this grand universe.
As my mother – and father – used to tell me, it’s not so much about what you wear, but the person that resides underneath. And while I strongly believe that manhood and womanhood are both social constructs, I do believe that a real man can be defined as being responsible, having good character and showing kindness and compassion to others, which are ironically all the markers of a good human being – regardless of gender.
Recently, I went walking around the neighborhood with my dog and I came across a young man, approximately in his teens, dressed in skinny jeans, knee high boots, and a Louis Vuitton knock-off purse. While he stood at the bus stop, bobbing his head and mumbling the words to Rick Ross’ “B.M.F,” a somewhat random thought came across my mind: the mere fact that this gender-bending young man could even dare walk out the house – let alone in this mostly working class neighborhood – without fear or threat of violence, says a lot about the newer generation’s views on sexuality and hip-hop.
Of course, a lot of us “old heads” might not quite understand the correlation between the two, or for that matter, the young man’s womanly fashion sense in general. To be honest, I didn’t understand the latter myself. What is most obvious is that many in this newer generation of hip-hop heads are ditching the traditional social and cultural constructs governing identity and defining their femininity, masculinity and sexuality on their own terms.
Gone are the days of baggy oversized jeans and timberland boots, in comes the days of metro-sexualism and androgyny. It’s hard to say for sure what this all means for the hip-hop culture in particular, but one thing is for sure, only time will tell what outcomes this new wave of indefinable sexuality will have on society overall.
However, some archaic habits and beliefs die hard. Just last week 50 cent, “Wankster” rapper and overall egomaniac, got himself in some hot water about a tweet he sent on Twitter, in which he implicitly and allegedly endorsed gay teen suicide. To quote 50, “If you a man and you are over 25 and you don’t eat pu**y just kill your self damn it. The world will be a better place. Lol”
The tweet had created a stir on a number of blogs as well as in the gay activist communities, who felt that it was not only homophobic but in poor taste considering three tragic stories about gay teen suicides including Tyler Clementi, the Rutgers University student who committed suicide after privacy invasion by fellow classmates.
Let me be the first to say that 50 cent is a prime example of why I believe that not everyone should be eligible for Twitter accounts. I mean, doesn’t he have an album to record or tour to go on or something? He spends more hours tweeting than a teenage girl.
Nevertheless, as much as it pains me to have to defend him, I have to say that whoever thought that 50’s tweet was advocating for homosexual males to actually go out and kill himself, is really reaching – I mean really reaching.
But this is to not let 50 Cent totally off the hook. Back in 2004, he once said that he didn’t like having gay people around him because he’s “not comfortable with what their thoughts are.” Not the most politically correct thing to say, especially considering that his mother was bisexual.
As conflicting as that is, 50 Cent represents a long tradition in hip-hop culture of hyper- masculinity, which often translates into violence, misogynistic and of course, homophobia. Terms like “no homo” – an often overstated affirmation of an individual, particularly male, commitment to heterosexuality has been the most recent demonstrated of its relatively uncomfortable relationship with homosexuality.
Yet much like the world around it, hip-hop is slowly evolving.
Prompted by the coming out of a gay cousin, hip-hop Superstar Kanye West recently spoke out about anti-gay bias in hip-hop including his own music, proclaiming that hip hop was supposed to be about “breaking down barriers, but everyone in hip-hop discriminates against gay people.
Not to mention the growing number of openly gay, lesbian and bi-curious rappers, making their way not just on the underground scene but also the mainstream stages. Hip Hop artists like Nicki Minaj, the new It Girl in hip hop at the moment, is not shying away from her bi-curiosity, often incorporating gay-friendly themes into her lyricism. And while this self-proclaimed Barbie is mums on whether her gay persona is real or just played for entertainment purposes, she has still managed to captivate audiences, scoring the first number single by a female on Billboard’s top rap hits since 2003 and create a cult following among gay and straight youth alike.
But while hip-hop has welcomed her as its first openly bisexual female emcee, she believes the culture is still not ready to accept a bisexual or homosexual male rapper. In a recent interview with OUT magazine, Minaj said that there are already plenty of gay rappers in the industry, although hiding in the lyrical closet. However, she fully expects a high profile hip hop artist to come out in the future.
The hyper-masculine terrain will make for a brutal out coming party for male rappers, who dare the public spotlight. But much like the rest of society, which struggles to reach such milestones as the elimination of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and the ban on gay marriage, the day of the out and proud gay rap star is upon us. Hip Hop has always been about going against the social norms and there is no greater rebellion against the social hip hop norm than a gay, male rapper.
(Yahoo/AP) – In a move hailed as a step toward fairness for same-sex couples, President Barack Obama is ordering that nearly all hospitals allow patients to say who has visitation rights and who can help make medical decisions, including gay and lesbian partners.
The White House on Thursday released a statement by Obama instructing his Health and Human Services secretary to draft rules requiring hospitals that receive Medicare and Medicaid payments to grant all patients the right to designate people who can visit and consult with them at crucial moments.
(AP) — Even death cannot stop the violence against gays in this corner of the world any more. Madieye Diallo’s body had only been in the ground for a few hours when the mob descended on the weedy cemetery with shovels. They yanked out the corpse, spit on its torso, dragged it away and dumped it in front of the home of his elderly parents. The scene of May 2, 2009 was filmed on a cell phone and the video sold at the market. It passed from phone to phone, sowing panic among gay men who say they now feel like hunted animals.