LGBT community struggles to find a place in Hip-hop

Rashad Muhammad, Opinion Editor

Homophobia permeates almost every aspect of our society. Whether it is obscured in the workplace, feared in sports or diffused within our religious beliefs, the disdain for homosexuals was obvious. However, the contempt towards homosexuals is not as prevalent as it once was. Today it can be considered almost a 50/50 split in regards to the support behind the issue and the opposition against it.


Overall, it seems as though many people in various classifications have stressed their support of the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender) community. More perceptibly, pop culture has almost become synonymous with the acceptance of individuals in the LGBT community.


Many music artists have shown their support of related issues like same-sex marriage. On many occasions these artists can be seen vocalizing their support of the gay community, but artists in some categories neglect this “perceived” obligation. Notably in the world of hip-hop, homophobia is a constant theme.


Illustrated in the lyrics of rappers like Tyler the Creator or even the more popular Lil’ Wayne, hip-hop artists consistently and unapologetically insult gay individuals. Hip-hop may not be as universally popular as rock or country, but it generationally has an increasing cultural impact. Taylor Swift has been seen numerous times singing rap lyrics but conversely the same can’t be said. How often have you seen rap artists singing country music? It is Hip-hop’s prevalence in the media and its popularity amongst youth that makes it more influential.


In order to decrease the tone of homophobia, it has to be rejected and considered unpopular. Regrettably however, many in the hip-hop industry only increase homophobia’s attractiveness with the usage of homophobic lyrics and themes in their music.


In November 2011, Earvin “Magic” Johnson did an interview with the Huffington Post describing his feelings towards homophobia in hip-hop.


“As a hip-hop fan, you realize that homophobia is still an issue everywhere,” Johnson said. “We’re trying to reach out to the hip-hop community because they have power — power with their voice, power with that mic in their hand and power with the lyrics that they sing.”


Corresponding with the popular Marvel Comics, “Great power means great responsibility.” If a rapper decides they’re against homosexuality then that is simply no longer a personal belief. Artists are commercially and often emotionally supported by their fans. Paying customers have a right know the entirety of their purchase and those who believe that this conviction is solely a private matter are mistaken. When you are a brand, your beliefs are for everyone to see. Although you have a right to practice your beliefs however you see fit, those who support the brand have a right to know where and to whom their money is going. If a singer believed that child molestation or rape should be an accepted practice, people have a right to be aware of this information.


Fans want to know what kind of person they’re supporting when they spend their money on music. They could easily illegally download music for free, but those who legally purchase music are not only buying the music, they are directly and indirectly supporting the artist.


Those who publicly condemn homosexuality have done at least one thing correctly: they have given fans the opportunity to decide for themselves who they are willing to support.


In many instances, rappers hide behind the guise of artistic expression in defense of their inadvertent prejudice. They say that they don’t mean anything by it, but does that make it any less hurtful?


Artists in almost every genre of music have expressed their support of gay people. Many rappers have often expressed similar beliefs, but then denigrate and lyrically belittle those they previously defended. For a culture immersed in creativity and innovation, its shocking that no one has found a synonym for words like “fa***t” and “homo”. They think by saying these words that they are describing someone as less of a man, but on the contrary, they are insulting an entire group of people.


Snoop Lion, formerly known as Snoop Dogg, gave his opinion about homophobia in an interview with NME (New Musical Express) magazine.


He stated that, “In the rap world I don’t know if it will ever be acceptable because rap is so masculine.” Snoop Lion goes on to say that, “I don’t have a problem with gay people. I got some gay homies”.


As unfortunate as it sounds, he may be right. The LGBT community may never be accepted in rap culture but that doesn’t mean disrespect and prejudice should be accepted or tolerated.


As evidenced by artists like Macklemore and A$AP Rocky, not all rappers are homophobic and not all hip-hop artists encourage homophobia. Those who lyrically condemn the gay community simply overshadow those who don’t, and as a whole, it’s time for hip-hop to stop living in the dark ages. The artists that truly want to support the movement have to be cognizant of their content and the effect it has on those who support them.