An inconsistent ally

Letters to the Boston editors, June 15, 2012


I loved your Queer Issue (May 25). However, there's something that has been preventing me from fully enjoying some of the progress made in the struggle for equality and society's perception of the LGBT community.

There has been a considerable amount of buzz about hip-hop artists coming out in support of equal-marriage rights. For someone who has been exposed to and surrounded by hip-hop culture for his entire life, the statements made by Jay-Z and other prominent hip-hop personalities are less than impressive. It is impossible — especially for a young, gay black male — not to recall lyrics that have perpetuated homophobia and hyper-masculinity (among other conditions that plague black society, such as misogyny and exploitation of women, materialism, and the glorification of drug-related crime). Only days ago, Jay-Z, referring to anti-gay discrimination, told CNN, "It's no different than discriminating against blacks. It's discrimination, plain and simple." However, on his track Brooklyn (Go Hard), the rapper says, "Boom Bye Bye, like Buju I'm crucial." He was referring to Buju Banton, whose chorus for the anti-gay song Boom Bye Bye, which led to Banton's dismissal from a record label in the early '90s, says, "Boom bye bye inna batty bwoy head." "Batty bwoy" is a derogatory term, used primarily by Jamaicans, for homosexual men. Then, of course, the wildly famous Lil' Wayne comes to mind; in his song Go DJ, he says, "You homo ni**as getting AIDS in the a**, while the homie here tryna get paid in advance." Yet the LGBT community should be appeased by a few supportive statements from the hip-hop industry, which are pale in comparison to the hateful lyrics that have been pumping through speakers for more than two decades?

President Obama's support, and the NAACP's acknowledgement of gay-rights issues as civil-rights issues, has given these artists the courage to finally say something that encourages social development, as opposed to the usual self-degradation and modern blaxploitation. While the probable positive influence of these hip-hop figures' statements must be realized, the hip-hop industry is, at best, an inconsistent ally in the struggle for LGBT equality. I would've appreciated reading the Phoenix perspective about the coming out of these half-assed and previously closeted supporters.


Related: Trans activist Gunner Scott says, despite increased visibility, it’s still dangerous to be transgender in America, Female-to-male alongside pop culture, Don't forget the kids, liberal hypocrites, More more >
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