This song, which I wrote in April, is a response to what I have observed and experienced, and is also an act of personal accountability. It was not easy to write, and I struggled with how I, as a straight male, could genuinely speak upon this issue.I will be the first to admit that I am a profuse user of "that's gay" or "you're gay" in the context of "you're stupid" and it has indeed become commonplace for my peers and I. The word "fag" or "faggot"is also used quite often among my friends but for some reason the sensitivity of the word is still too strong for me to use.
Initially, I tried writing from the perspective of a gay, bullied kid, but after getting some feedback, I felt it wasn’t my story to tell. What I do know, and where I wrote from, is my own perspective growing up in a culture where “that’s gay” was commonplace, with a huge stigma on those who identified and were perceived as gay.
Growing up in the Catholic Church, I saw first-hand how easily religion became a platform for hate and prejudice. Those who “believed” were excused from their own judgments, bypassing the stark issue of basic civil rights.
But, more influential to me as a kid than the church was hip hop, my cultural foundation that influenced my worldview.
Unfortunately, intolerance of the gay community in hip hop is widespread. The best rappers will use homophobic language on albums that critics rave about, making hip hop and homophobia inextricably linked. We have sidestepped the issue entirely, become numb to the language that we use, and are increasingly blinded to our own prejudice.
As much as I love the gay community, I still have a hard time with their PDA and that goes for film and the street. My bff and I agree that as much as we want to accept it, we still find it uncomfortable. Ideally, we imagine ourselves in our mind fully accepting but when we see it we shy away from it. I've found that others many feel the same way. (I actually just find PDA weird in general.)
Upon the matter of intolerance within the hip hop community, I must bring up the recent event of Frank Ocean coming out. This was a shock. Dudes were like, "WUT?!" It was a whole new world listening to his songs; past perceived meanings changed. Eventually those reactions turned to, "Yeah he's gay, but he's still koo." Yet there is lost identification with his music for these "hard", young inner city boys which gives me an image of them keeping Ocean at arms length. It's like when they find out an acquaintance or friend is gay: "Oh. That's koo, man." It's more like oh that's koo but don't get too close. There is now an air of caution.
Macklemore also brings up the issue of religion creating prejudice. I agree with this as well but I think people get caught up in the culture of religion rather than focus on the core. When I look at a religion, I try not to look at the people as much because people aren't perfect but rather I try to focus on what the religion teaches. Does the religion as a whole advocate prejudice? Or is it a personal commandment of a wayward preacher?
As a Mormon there are members of my church who look down upon the GLBT members of the world. Michael Otterson spoke on behalf of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints to address the matter of a petition by the Human Rights Campaign and said:
We join our voice with others in unreserved condemnation of acts of cruelty or attempts to belittle or mock any group or individual that is different – whether those differences arise from race, religion, mental challenges, social status, sexual orientation or for any other reason. Such actions simply have no place in our society...
As a church, our doctrinal position is clear: any sexual activity outside of marriage is wrong, and we define marriage as between a man and a woman. However, that should never, ever be used as justification for unkindness.Finally! Sometimes I wish other Mormons would take more time to learn where their own church stands. Personally I have always struggled with the prejudice of those church members who "shine" in every Gospel department but fail to recognize the true meaning of love. God and Jesus loves everyone unconditionally and we are expected to do the same. And let's be real: we're all sinners.
I would also like to state where I stand on the controversy of gay marriage. It should be legalized; if gays want to be married, let them have the choice. But let there also be a choice for the church if they marry gays. I believe everyone should have a choice. If God gave us free agency, then who are we to deny it to others. A choice doesn't just mean yes, there is always no.
One of my cousins is fantabulously gay. When he came out, my Aunt and Uncle did not react in the nicest way (it happened so long ago I can't remember if they cut him off or what) but eventually they came around and accepted my cousin fully and even his then partner.
When I'm around him I still use the phrase "that's gay" and he hasn't commented on my usage of the phrase to this day. Maybe it's because I'm his cousin, but my interactions with other gays are quite similar. Perhaps that is the reason for my insensitivity. However, all gays have their own personal view on the matter and I'm sure you do as well. I'm interested in hearing them.
So listen to the song! If you've never heard Macklemore or heard of him, then this will be a good tasting of his fine musical quality.