[Editor's note: I'm personally a fan of Macklemore, and I don't think Same Love should be totally discredited because at the end of the day the message of the song is positive and in support of gay rights. However, this article brings up some really important points about how Hip-Hop is portrayed as being overly homophobic, and Macklemore has been highlighted as a beacon of equality within the Hip-Hop genre simply because he is white. Macklemore is by no means doing something completely novel by showing his support for the LGBTQ community, but unfortunately he is getting all the credit even though many POCs in the Hip-Hop community (see Melange Lavonne, Busta Rhymes, Lil B, and Jay-Z) have been showing their support for the gay community for a long time.]
By Dennis R. Upkins
“An Example Of White Privilege: When blacks are in the closet, it’s called being on the down low, when whites do it, it’s called being a Republican Senator.”
When our illustrious Bartender posted “The Bar Loves Homo Hop”, I knew I was going to have a lot to say on the matter as this is a subject that hits home with me on a multitude of levels. However it took me a few days to gather my thoughts. Which is why I was ever so gracious when our Bartender allowed me this opportunity to do a guest post.
One of the most infuriating things about being a queer black male is the fact you have to CONSTANTLY deal with the seemingly never-ending barrage of attacks and false accusations about how black people are more innately homophobic than any other group on the rest of the planet.
No matter how many times I state facts, news articles or just point simple common sense, I still get told that I don’t know what I’m talking about. These people are experts on a culture and a race that they are not affiliated with.
Shockingly 99 percent of the people who do this are white.
What’s even more shocking that while everyone has an opinion on blacks/LGBTQs/and homophobia, it’s rare that anyone ever asks queer blacks on our perspectives in existing in both minorities.
In fact, since coming out, I’ve only had maybe four whites comes to me in good faith and ASK whether or not homophobia in the black community being worse is true rather than WHITESPLAINING to me that it is.
Despite the garbage that gets heaped at us, queer blacks like myself, Monica Roberts, Jasmyne Cannick, Rod McCullom and many others are in the trenches fighting the good fight for LGBTQs, blacks, POCs, and other minorities. We’re rarely acknowledged, if ever.
In fact many can’t wrap their heads around the fact that LGBTQ and POC are not mutually exclusive. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve spoken on my experiences as a gay man and I’ve had whites straight and gay alike uses coded racist/hompohobic attacks “Are you sure he’s gay? You don’t speak for this ‘community.’” In other words coloreds don’t count. But just to give you a glimpse of the racism POCs endure in gay spaces here’s sneak peek (http://neo-prodigy.livejournal.com/1045886.html
). And that’s racist white gays on a good day.
In spite of all of this, black LGBTQs press on not because we’re looking for accolades but because we want to be the change we wish to see in the world.
So you can imagine my disgust when I see Macklemore, a straight white dude being praised as being revolutionary and a beacon of shining light in hip hop, i.e., the Great White Savior.
Make no mistake, homophobia is a serious issue in hip hop. Homophobia is a serious issue in the black community. But it’s certainly no worse in hip hop than it is in any other genre of music or any other form of entertainment. After all country singer Blake Shelton had no qualms about threatening to assault gay men.
Ask yourself this, how many out queer musicians are there in mainstream and how many of them are allowed to sing about same sex relationships? How many of them are in country music? Rock music? Pop? You think this is random happenstance? You think there aren’t any LGBTQ musicians trying to get pass the gatekeepers to share their gifts with the world.
More than that while Macklemore is being erroneously propped up as the Progressive Great White Savior of hip hop, when the truth of the matter is, he’s anything but that.
“Here’s why you need to care about our next guest. No other artists in hip-hop history have ever taken a stand defending marriage equality the way they have.”
Ellen DeGeneres, while I have mad love and respect for you, that right there…..no, just no.
Jay-Z made headlines recently by speaking out in favor of marriage equality. Last year Frank Ocean risked his career and his life by coming out of the closet. That move right there sparked a long overdue discussion and movement to overhaul many of the issues affecting hip hop and the black community.
More than that, there’s an entire genre of queer hip hop artists who have been tackling real issues affecting queer folks and once again, they don’t get acknowledged. Wonder why.
“Same Love” was largely a success because once again it allowed white people to scapegoat homophobia on hip hop (and by extension the evil nigrah savages) without doing any self-reflection of their own bigotry.
While Macklemore acknowledges he has white privilege, notice he’s not promoting any queer POC artists and acknowledging them as the pioneers. Notice he’s focusing on hip hop and not calling out white culture: the white politicians, white media that stay attacking LGBTQs or for that matter POCs and women.
Hell, if he had simply called out the white CEOs of the numerous labels and distributors behind the problematic hip hop artists, I would’ve been impressed.
And the conflating of Black Civil Rights and LGBTQ equality in that song….again, no….just no.
Let me clue you in on some wicked truths.
Gay will NEVER be the new black…or brown, or red or yellow. The fact that many people think marriage equality is the biggest issue facing LGBTQs proves my point.
What people conveniently forget is that it was the Civil Rights movement that paved the way for gay rights. And shockingly enough there were many queer black Civil Rights activists who fought for racial equality and gay equality. Even Huey Newton, the late leader of the Black Panther Party, spoke out on how black militants need to embrace gay rights and feminism and examine and check our own internal misogyny and homophobia. Mildred Loving and Coretta Scott King were immensely outspoken on gay rights. But tell me again how blacks are more homophobic.
When I’m asked which is harder, being black or being gay, I’m always amused at how shocked people are when I tell them that it’s much harder being black than being gay ( the next QPOCs mileage may vary).
As much hell as I get—and trust me I do get hell—for being gay, I do have certain advantages. I can pass for straight, so as long as I don’t bring any attention to myself, I don’t have to worry about getting my skull cracked in. The other advantage I have, when I call out homophobia, people actually listen. Even the most hardcore conservative will acknowledge the existence of homophobia.
Yet let me call out racism and I have legions upon legions of whites, liberal and conservative, jumping at the chance to gaslight me and question my sanity/honesty/intelligence/emotional maturity.
Because in this society calling out racism is far more egregious than the actual racism.
Or as Malcolm X said, they don’t even acknowledge the knife is there.
The sad reality is that any LGBTQ equality that does happen will be in spite of the mainstream (read white) LGBTQ “community.” The unsung heroes and heroines will primarily be queer POCs and trans people as Stonewall illustrated. Because we don’t have cis and/or white privilege, we don’t have the option to fuck around.
You see many whites don’t ever want to risk their privilege and fall out of favor with other whites. That’s why we see the blatant shucking and jiving we see in the LGBTQ “community.” That’s why most campaigns show gays begging for help from their “allies” as opposed to us working to be independent financially and culturally from all things hetero. That’s why you rarely see us taking up arms to defend ourselves, you rarely see us boycotting or engaging in civil disobedience on the level that blacks and other POCs do. Most whites don’t want to come out of their comfort zone.
This is why Log Cabin Republicans exist. They’ll work for the very people oppressing them just to maintain their privilege.
This is why even though Lana Wachowski, Frank Ocean, and Laura Anne Grace have done some incredible work in the past year, the Trevor Project instead decide to give an award to Katy Perry, noted homophobic and transphobic bigot. But hey, anything to appease the breeders, right?
If White Saviors like Macklemore want to do some good and combat homophobia, why don’t they go to the main source of homophobia: white people?
You see, it’s whites who run television, movies, and publishing and move heaven and earth to keep LGBTQs from being visible or at most being portrayed as more than one-dimensional stereotypes.
You see, it’s white politicians who have passed legislation to further oppress LGBTQs. Interestingly enough, it took a black president to actually get the ball rolling on gay equality on a federal level and despite all of the heat he has taken and all the work he has done, he STILL gets racist attacks from the LGBTQ “community.”
Contrary to what Macklemore would have you believe with “Same Love”, WHEN I CAME OUT, hip hop wasn’t who I was worried about hating me. It was the white employers who would fire me because they believe White Jaysus Hates Fags. It was the racist and homophobic white police officer who I had to worry about putting a bullet in me when I got pulled over and racially profiled. It was the white medical physician I had to worry about when I got a checkup and they found out that I’ve been with men sexually.
You see the biggest source of homophobia are not just white people but white allies, such as an ex straight friend who demanded I be grateful for her supporting gay rights but then lectured me on why gay men shouldn’t be able to donate blood no matter what their sexual history is. It’s white straight “allies” who infiltrate our spaces and attack us to no end. I couldn’t even go to a gay club with my ex-boyfriend without some white woman harassing me wanting to know what breed of mix I am.
You see, it’s white female allies who pen the most homophobic bile known as m/m romance and when gay authors call them out, they go batshit, stalk harass said gay males for speaking out, and then want to cry rape when they get called on their bullshit.
If I have to choose between homophobic blacks and racist white gays, I’m taking my chances with homophobic blacks. You see racist white gays rarely (if ever) get called out and they move heaven and earth to attack queer POCs.
Make no mistake, I have indeed encountered homophobic blacks and POCs and I’ve checked them viciously when they’ve come out of pocket. But by large, black folks have treated me like family. Blacks, strangers and biological family alike, are the first ones to protect me and make sure I feel welcomed.
Whites on the other hand….with the exception of an elite few who have proven to be my Ride or Die, I’ve always had to look over my shoulder. Part of looking over my shoulder includes seeing carpet bagging fauxial justice opportunists for who they are.
So “allies” like Macklemore and Katy Perry don’t impress me. I want nothing of what they’re selling. They can get rich off of someone else.
You want to see real allies in action look at Brendon Ayanbadejo or Chris Kluwe. Read up on the late Richard Loving and see how he got down. Research Jane Elliott and you will soon learn why she’s what the kids would call a Boss Chick. See these allies aren’t concerned about getting rich off of oppressed minorities, looking good or earning their social justice street cred. Their main concern is doing the right thing.
So if you aren’t reppin like they are, then you’re doing it wrong. Do the world a favor and take the bench. Because saviors like you are anything but.