Now that JayZ supports same-sex marriage, will the Hip-Hop community follow?
Same-sex marriage rights took a milestone leap forward last week when President Barack Obama told ABC's Robyn Roberts that he now supports it. A few days earlier, his Vice-President Joe Biden had publicly declared his support for marriage equality.
Another big celebrity almost on par with the president for he sits atop the throne in his world--has also stepped forward to give his stamp of approval on Gay and Lesbians marrying.
I'm talking about one of the 'ruling monarchs' of the Rap/HipHop world, Jay Z, who told CNN this week that he supports Gay marriage. This is huge, for homophobia is rampant in this industry. In fact, it is very prevalent in African-American communities, especially its churches and among Black men.
When HIV/AIDs started to devastate our young in the 80s and 90s, the churches remained silent. When they weren't busy burying their heads in the sand, they were pointing accusatory fingers at those suffering from the deadly disease for they felt it was a Gay disease, brought on by 'sin.' The current Pontiff even said as much in 2010 on his vist to Africa, a continent rife with HIV and poverty.
The music industry wasn't much better and this anti-Gay sentiment overflowed into our mainstream culture. Today, not much has changed and "Acting Gay," "that's so Gay," "No Homo" and "pause" are just some of the words and phrases used as the new derogatory terms on the block. "Pause" or "no homo" is used by teens and young adults to ward off any perception of being Gay. If someone says something that remotely sounds "Gay" to them, they use those words. I know, it is downright irrational but that is where a large portion of the youth population is on homosexuality. They are deathly afraid of anyone remotely thinking that they might be part of "that homo crowd."
Adults aren't much better and religions preaching that homosexuality is a sin, exacerbates the problem. Many of our young, hopeless, ashamed and alone, turn to suicide to escape. The Rutgers University tragedy is a prime example of how desperation can end tragically.
When 18 year old Tyler Clementi jumped off the George Washington Bridge in New York 3 days after his room-mate outed his tryst with another man,, our courts sought to punish the webcam wielding offender, 19-year-old Dharun Davi an Indian immigrant. The society Davi comes from is also extremely homophobic and our young learn what is taught.
But will that solve the deeper problem? The distraught Clementi's shame was greater than his will to live for sadly he felt the only escape was suicide. Why--because many in our society are relentless in their persecution. Accusations of Pervert, Sinner, Deviant, Sicko, Homo, 'Batty Boy,' 'Bulla Man' float from pulpits, concert stages, rap songs and lyrics across our nation, the Caribbean and beyond.
In the Hip-Hop world, machismo is a prerequisite, and homosexuality is seen as being less than a 'real' man as comedian Steve Harvey let slip while visiting the ladies at ABC 7 weekday gabfest, The View, in April. Co-host Joy Behar corrected him on his 'Gay men aren't real men" slip and he apologized but we know he meant it. We have heard him speak on this topic before and know just where he stands on the issue but Steve is not the only one who feels this way.
Hence the "down-low brother" continues to exists in the shadows, to the detriment of many women. Voltaire once said "Christians are so unlike their Christ" and centuries later this still rings true, for many churches are the cornerstone of intolerance when it comes to homosexuality and same-sex marriage is definitely a resounding no.
North Carolina and 30 other States have amended the Constitution to close the door on marriage equality, citing the preservation of 'traditional marriage' not homophobia, as the basis fo the law. Only 7 States have granted those rights. Which brings up another troubling question: should we even be voting on "Rights?"
What MSNBC's Rachel Maddox said recently sums it up succintly: that no one's Rights should be voted on for Civil Rights are just that--Rights, not to be granted, taken away or denied on a whim of a majority vote but exists for they are inalienable.