Thursday, March 2, 2006

Hip-Hop & Homophobia

  With the Oscars coming up on Sunday, and all of the buzz whirling about “Brokeback Mountain,” the nationwide discourse on homosexuality has been heating up.  The film received eight nominations from the Academy, re-igniting the age-old debate on the morality of homosexuality and its acceptance in modern society.

  But there is one arena that has not yet opened its doors or minds to homosexuality: the world of hip-hop.  In the April 2004 issue of Playboy, 50 Cent told the magazine, “I ain’t into faggots.  I don't like gay people around me, because I'm not comfortable with what their thoughts are. I'm not prejudiced. I just don't go with gay people and kick it — we don't have that much in common. I'd rather hang out with a straight dude.”

  But Last August, Kanye West sat down with MTV host Sway for the filming of “All Eyes On Kanye West,” and put it out there.  In that candid, one-on-one conversation, Kanye called the hip-hop community on its discrimination against gay people.

  “Everybody in hip-hop discriminates against gay people,” Kanye told MTV.  “Matter of fact, the exact opposite word of ‘hip-hop,’ I think, is ‘gay.’  Like yo, you play a record and if it’s wack, ‘That’s gay, dog!’  I wanna just come on TV and just tell my rappers, just tell my friends, ‘Yo, stop it fam.”

  He explained that growing up without a father, without a male role model in his life, he became a “mama’s boy.”  That led to speculation among his friends that he was gay.  “If you see something and you don't want to be that because there's such a negative connotation toward it, you try to separate yourself from it so much that it made me homophobic by the time I was through high school…I would use the word ‘fag’ and look down upon gay people.”  Then West found out that one of his favorite cousins was homosexual.  “And at that point it was kind of like a turning point when I was like, ‘Yo, this my cousin, I love him and I been discriminating against gays.’"

  Since that interview, Kanye West has gone on record saying that he has received more criticism from his fellow rappers over those comments than he did by saying on national television that “George Bush doesn’t care about Black people.”  Since he made those remarks, the hip-hop community has been mum on the issue of homosexuality, at least publicly.

  But in an interview with Krayzie Bone a couple of weeks ago, I asked him about Kanye’s comments about the homophobia in hip-hop.  “To me, if you’re a man—if you’re a real man—you’re supposed to be homophobic, bottom line.  I mean, a real man doesn’t want any gay men around him, bottom line.  That’s just the bottom line.  Like protecting gay people, it’s wrong, for one.  Bottom line, it’s wrong.  The bottom line is that it’s wrong and it’s not supposed to be done.  You know what I’m saying?  It’s wrong, and it’s not natural.  That’s how I feel about it.”

  It seems ironic that, as the rest of the world grows more accepting, more understanding, more tolerant of homosexuality, the rap game continues to discriminate.

-From Pulse
   March 2, 2006