By now, following Macklemore’s “gaylicious” Grammys performance, the world has fallen from its axis, taken a trip around the galaxy, and has-hopefully-resumed its rightful rotation around the sun. If not, I’m sure it will soon. Thankfully, this section is entitled “Neisha’s 2 ¢,” because that’s exactly what I want to add to the pot of criticisms and congratulations whirling around the interwebs. So, I wrote a little something. Like to hear it? Here it goes:
Ah, how you force [queer] people of color to read you, let me count the ways. Firstly, that Instagram post :
Really? That’s the best you could do? Sir, that’s not going to pacify the legions of outraged POC who take issue with the Grammys’ blatant disregard for our contributions to a genre we created, the same one we continue to enrich with our artistic genius, see Kendrick Lamar, Talib Kweli and Q-Tip for starters. The fact that you swept the Rap categories is less of a testament to your superior talent and more of a glaring condemnation of blackness. But, you knew this already, which is why you quickly doled out that flavorless helping of white guilt.
Also, I get it: you don’t break out into hives at the mere mention of the word “gay.” Congratulations. Unfortunately, I’m plum out of rainbow stickers to hand you. Actually, I’m not; I just refuse to perceive your recent ‘endorsement’ of homosexuality as anything other than what it really is: a marketing ploy- a very profitable one at that. Let’s be honest, shall we? White gayness is the new currency and any savvy businessman would jump at the opportunity to get his piece of the pie. It’s for this very reason that I understand your intention isn’t to speak to or speak up for me- a queer person of color. However, despite the mainstream LGBT movement’s decision to act like we don’t exist rather than address the complexities of intersectionality (please feel free to slap that with your Google hand at your earliest convenience) we endure on a daily basis; we’re still here and continue to challenge the way our sexuality is represented, regardless of whatever stamp of approval our white, queer counterparts may give you. We “…can’t change even if we wanted to, even if we tried…” and our lives are not a gimmick. Our identities aren’t your cross to bear, attach a catchy hook to, and then toss to the side whenever it’s convenient.
If you were serious about how your white privilege has contributed to your rap ‘success’ and were genuinely determined to use your celebrity to empower queer lives, you might’ve considered collaborating with one of the litany of qpoc artists out here producing great music, like Syd the Kyd, Angel Haze, or Le1f. Instead, you chose to present another exploitative performance, one in which you unabashedly use queer bodies as props (including Mary Lambert), which leads me to believe your only goal is to ride this “gay ally” train all the way to the bank. Honestly, if people want to support you in that effort, let them. By all means, it’s their inalienable right to line your pockets with their hard-earned cash. However, I’m far from impressed. In fact, I’m more inclined to salute public figures that were willing to risk everything when support was low and speaking out for social justice wasn’t “trendy.” People who jeopardized their lives and fortunes to use their platform to further a cause are whom I deem admirable and worthy of my respect, see Harry Belafonte, Muhammad Ali, Lena Horne, Paul Roberson, Josephine Baker, etc. So, you can spare me your bandwagon advocacy.
In the end, your very existence comforts white people who want to enjoy hip-hop, just not black people. It also comforts homophobes who enjoy the concept of ‘Same Love’, but just can’t stomach actual gay folks. Ultimately, the problem is much bigger than you; it’s what you represent- a safe, familiar package that allows White America to believe they’re more progressive on issues of racism and homosexuality than they really are. However, our voices as queer people of color will not be squelched. And since you’re a willing participant in the denial of blackness, in both its straight and queer forms, be prepared for a continuous onslaught of reads from now until you cease your offensive, desperate antics.