Artistry: Living Out Loud
Being Out, Being Hip Hop

May 26, 2006 Print version       Other articles by this author

My objective is to express. I wouldn't say I'm trying to change mainstream perceptions. People who are irreversible homophobes will be stubborn to their delusions until they die. These are the same people who'll vow that my rap group DDC isn't really "gay" because some of us have had (or have) girlfriends or have a masculine "backpacker" b-boy appearance. Being out and about may change some perspectives, but I think it's a person's everyday interactions with people who are visible that will even make them receptive to the truth of our message. As out artists, I think we create the conditions for many people to question their viewpoints and opinions, but ultimately it's the people closer to them who will have greater impact. I don't think it's a surprise to anyone anymore that there are good gay emcees (and some wack ones too). A straight boy does not a skilled emcee make. I think even straight people understand that homophobia is a great challenge to any of us ever "blowing up". Not many major labels aren't gonna be willing to back even the most talented gay emcees without making him or her super gimmicky or trying to create a niche market. Sadly, straight guys at spoken word/hip hop shows are more receptive to my flow than many at gay clubs waiting to hear the 4th 50 cent song of the night. I'm starting to see that change with a new wave of anti-DL younger gay guys looking for role models and guidance. I get emails all the time for young catz across the country who are happy I do what I do. It reaffirms why I do it. But I'm more concerned that the kid at Michigan State feels he has someone looking out for him than about his homophobic uncle on crack. I'm not a savior, I just rap a lot.

We need more visibility. We should stop being defensive about homosexuality, but live in the world owning our rights to have what other people have. There are some front seats on the bigot buses that need to be straight taken... Or queerly taken. Gay folks too often shrink to what we think society can accept and tolerate rather than owning our rights to a full life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness just like everyone else. And that's not so much about "combating" homophobia but just living your life as if it shouldn't even be questionable that you should love as you choose to love. It's that moment in a hip hop context or straight setting when two brothas decide they don't give a fcuk about who is around and find ways to gesture their desire for each other. I've done it before and ain't one punk "jump up to get beat down." I've also experienced situations where I didn't feel safe to express that... but things are changing for the better.