This past Saturday, The Guardian ran an interview with Snoop Dogg/Lion about his reinvention as an artist – from “gun-toting Dogg to peace-loving Lion”. Interviewer Simon Hattenstone asks Snoop a variety of questions about Snoop’s progression from his Dogg Pound days and changing opinions — including his opinion on gay people and Frank Ocean’s coming out:
“I don’t have a problem with gay people. I got some gay homies…Yeah, for real. People who were gay used to get beat up. It was cool to beat up on gay people back then. But in the 90s and 2000s, gay is a way of life. Just regular people with jobs. Now they are accepted, not classified. They just went through the same things we went through as black.”
He recently spoke out in support of gay marriage in America. Does he think that Frank Ocean coming out is a sign of progress in the rap world?
“…[I]t’s acceptable in the singing world, but in the rap world I don’t know if it will ever be acceptable because rap is so masculine. It’s like a football team. You can’t be in a locker room full of motherfucking tough-ass dudes, then all of a sudden say, ‘Hey, man, I like you.’ You know, that’s going to be tough.”
Snoop’s commendable comparison between racism and homophobia notwithstanding (a parallel I always make), and shoutout for telling how it was in the 80s-90s (open hunting season on gay kids – “cool to beat up gay people” is putting it lightly), I think Snoop is incorrect in his view of the rap game today. While Snoop’s words may have rung true in the days of “Gin & Juice”, their truth has faded in the age of Yung Money & Macklemore, and the scene is only getting more accepting of LGBT people.
Up until coming out last year, I thought much like Snoop – that hip-hop had not progressed much from its days of
lynching gay-bashing and lyrics like Brand Nubian’s “f*ck up a faggot, don’t understand their ways and I ain’t down with gays”. And while I was encouraged by rappers like Noreaga who said in 2009 that “he laughs off any notion that there’s something wrong with welcoming” gay MCs, I felt like Snoop said, that an out gay rapper – and much less an unabashed one – would “never be accepted” in the “masculine” world of hip-hop. If I didn’t lose shows, I’d lose fans; if I didn’t lose fans, I’d lose sales, or else the clubs would be unsafe for me. Fears like this would keep me in the closet professionally until reaching a breaking point in 2012.
And even before coming out, I learned that many of these fears were unfounded.
A few months before coming out, I would go to “Hip-Hop Hanukkah” sponsored by New York’s Hot97. Kosha Dillz was playing, and our manager, Diwon, wanted there to be a representation of the artists on the label. Naturally, he called me on the day of the event, and I was thrilled to attend, except for one thing: I had a full set of acrylic nails on and 2 1/2″ heels. The shoes I could change, but the nails? Reluctant and scared, I went to the event. After a couple drinks, I gained some courage: I wasn’t going to be closeted, I was going to be my fem gay self. I stood right next to my manager as he introduced me to some of the MCs: other than the fact that the nails seemed to contradict the dreadlocks (people had been calling me “Rasta” at first), no one (save one ignorant bartender) had any negative vibe or words for me. Instead, the haters left well enough alone and I was getting love in the crowd.
Once I was in a cipher across from the projects in Fort Greene, Brooklyn. The scene reminded me of a scenario which would have ended badly for me in high school: by myself, in the hood. The MC who was hosting me, a Brooklyn rapper named Pop Buchanan, grabs me before handing me the mic: “Yo, this is my n*gga Y-Love. He Jewish, and this is the gayest motherf*cker out here, and he’s my n*gga!”. He gives me a hug and then I start to flow. No negativity, no lack of “acceptance”.
Yes, homophobia is still alive and rampant in the rap scene. I would be hallucinating if I said otherwise. But stories like mine are happening in every club in every hood – that gay MC who walks in reluctantly, if he can hold it down on the mic, can get respect as much as his hetero counterpart. Hell, I’ve even flirted with a couple MCs – “hey, man, I like you” would be a Disney Channel rendition of some of the things I’ve said – all in good fun, and rarely receiving drama in response.
The game done changed, Snoop – and it’s only getting better.