by Ronda Racha Penrice for the Grio.com
Is being gay in hip-hop trapped in the closet?
When it comes to women sexually exploring other women, hip-hop has generally accepted such behavior, encouraged it even, on the condition that those women still engage in sex with men. Lesbians often present another problem. Women who love women only are considered “gay” while women who sometimes dabble in sex with women are considered freaks. Same-sex loving men or, even worse, bisexual men, are not even in the conversation.
Over the years, hip-hop’s homophobia has spilled over into the mainstream. Eminem’s The Marshall Mathers LP drew protests from GLAAD for such songs as “Criminal” and “Kill You” where words like “fags” don’t go unnoticed. In the midst of the controversy, Eminem performed with Elton John at the 2001 Grammys as GLAAD members protested outside.
But Eminem’s actions aren’t as contradictory as they appear. If there’s any industry that thrives on a “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, it’s the music industry, especially hip-hop. Two years ago, Terrance Dean had the industry on edge when his memoir, Hiding in Hip-Hop: On the Down Low in the Entertainment Industry – from Music to Hollywood was released. Although rumored to resemble Karrine Steffans’s explosive 2005 book Confessions of a Video Vixen, Dean’s book didn’t name names. Instead Dean, who once worked for BET and MTV, used fictional names that led to a guessing game, especially among urban bloggers.
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