Not that I pay that much attention to hip-hop anymore, but rapper, [The] Game (when did he drop the article?) spoke out recently about gays and hip-hop, and I noticed. And by “notice” I mean someone mentioned it to me and I bothered to Google it. Call it preparation for LGBTQ History Month.
In case you were wondering or concerned, “Game don’t have a problem with gay people.” Let’s all take a moment and release that collective sigh of relief. I wish I could follow that quote with “The Game don’t have a problem with not making albums anymore,” but that would be a lie–or a wish. Take your pick. But I digress. So, yeah, The Game don’t have a problem with gay people, but he does have a problem with believing myths and spreading them as if they are factually correct. The Game may not have a problem with the gays–and by gays The Game seems to speak exclusively about gay men–but he does have a problem with closeted men sleeping with straight women and consequently spreading AIDS to straight men who, I guess, would otherwise not have gotten caught up. This theory, as many of us know, has gained the appellation, “The Down Low Myth,” and several blogs have responded to The Game’s comments by refuting his argument. I support those efforts. And I hope those fans of The Game (because, seriously, who else was paying attention) who believed his words read those responses and gained some clarity. There was, however, something that the pundits missed, and I’d like to address it here.
The Game logged on to Twitter to clarify some of his initial statements. Because, you know, what better place to attempt to clarify something you said than a space that only allows you 140 characters at a time? The Game reiterated that he doesn’t have a problem with gay people. To be sure, I think that’s a really great thing to say. The Game went on, though. In typical “Some of my best friends are…” fashion, to prove that he really was indeed ok with gay people, The Game mentioned that he’s cool with his girlfriend’s hair stylist, who’s gay (duh) and rapper, 50 Cent, who The Game also claims is gay.
Now, I’ve said this many times, but it bears repeating: I’m not a supporter of outing people. I think coming out is a ritual fraught with many problems. More importantly, I think people know their situation better than others, and if they’ve chosen not to come out, we need to respect that. In no way do I support outing people for some larger cause. That’s word to Queen Latifah.
That said, when The Game suggested that gay rappers come out of the closet, I semi-nodded my head in agreement. Not because I think it would be an excellent way of countering the homophobic lyrics in hip-hop. Not because word that a rapper is gay would spark the same kind of gossipy interest we have when we hear about ministers getting caught in the park with their pants literally down. But because if the “right” group of rappers came out, then maybe gay hip-hop wouldn’t suck so much.
I’m going to get in trouble for that last statement, but I stick by it. Hip-hop in its current state sucks. Gay hip-hop really sucks. I know. Most of any given genre sucks–maybe 10 or 15% doesn’t. Yet I’ve yet to encounter enough decent gay hip-hop to fill that 10-15% void. But I’m convinced I can’t because most of the good rappers are closeted for one reason or another, and out rappers generate a noticeable portion of their fan base precisely because they are out. There is something to be said about being drawn to a public figure because they seemingly represent you. I cheer for black people on Jeopardy! for that very reason. But when it comes to art, I’m a little more discriminating in my tastes. I’d much rather listen to a misogynistic, homophobic rapper who can actually spit than a politically correct one who can’t. And I’m not going to support the latter. I just can’t muster support based on representation alone. Clarence Thomas taught me that lesson many years ago when I watched his confirmation hearings with my great-grandparents after school. Yes, Tupac’s “Dear Mama,” may be uplifting and nice to some, but Biggie’s “I Got a Story to Tell,” is one of the illest, misogynistic yet poetic narratives you’ll hear, and it makes “Dear Mama” sound like the wackness that it is. (Sorry.) The same rules apply for gay hip-hop. (Sorry.)
So, yes, I suppose on one level I’m with The Game. I want gay rappers to come out. And if my gaydar works, I’m pretty sure many of the good rappers–some of the best even–are closeted. And if they came out and kept rhyming the way they have, then maybe the wackness quotient of gay hip-hop would diminish some. A purely selfish reason, indeed. Then again, isn’t that where the impulse to out other people stems, anyway?