Kanye West Revisits Homophobia

Kanye_westLloyd Grove reports on a Kanye West interview with King magazine in which he discusses his ongoing relationship with homophobia, a topic he spoke out against earlier this year. He says speaking out against homophobia was scarier than calling George Bush a racist:

“I’m still trying to get over my own homophobia. I still wouldn’t feel comfortable at a gay bar. I wouldn’t go to a gay parade. I don’t know if I’m in favor of gay marriage or not. People said to me, ‘Were you scared of speaking out against George Bush?’ No. The bravest thing I did this year was speaking out against homophobia. That’s a scarier topic, because if you bring it up, people think you must be gay. But you don’t have to be gay to not gay-bash. We’re a very close-minded people.”

West recalls that it was a homophobic incident he was involved in with another rapper that woke him up to his own bigotry: “We started rhyming about beating up gays right in front of him. .. People always say, ‘Kanye’s conscious, Kanye’s conscious’ – well, my conscience kicked in, and it said, ‘Yo, that was kinda wack.’ Things have been clicking ever since. I found out my cousin was gay years ago, and even just dealing with my interior decorator, having to travel with him, I’ve had to deal with issues. There was a point I wouldn’t even get in the car with him ’cause I didn’t want people to see me with a gay person. I didn’t want it to hurt my career.”

Will somebody please take Kanye to a gay bar?

Related
Thank You, Kanye West [tr]

Comments

  1. says

    Brave? Why is he all of a sudden this humble bleeding heart because he has a simple conscious? Something the majority of us are born with.

    I don’t know about this guy. It kind of reeks of publicity stunting. Are we supposed to giggle with girlish delight at this guy and sashay our diesel covered asses out to buy his records now that he is attempting to understand us?

    Sorry for the bitterness, I’m just a little skeptical at people glorifying themselves because they simply speak out against hatrted.

  2. Jay says

    Curious what your reaction would be if Jake Gyllenhaal made similar comments…

    Seems to me Kanye is just being honest, which is quite refreshing. I think if he were glorifying himself, then he would do something like perform on MTV with, oh say, Elton John or someone.

    Kanye is hardly asking to be applauded for this, nor is he asking to become the latest gay icon. Gays are always demanding that everyone accept them, well here is someone who is genuinely trying.

    Sorry for your bitterness.

  3. Wayne says

    I disagree with Jay and Jimmy. Kanye is still a homophobe and it doesn’t make it okay simply because he’s willing to talk about it. He won’t attend a gay parade? He won’t go to a gay bar? He won’t get in a car with his interior designer because he doesn’t want people to see him with a gay person?? He’s an asshole, and you’re giving him license just because he’s calling himself an asshole to the media. An asshole is STILL an asshole, anyway you turn him over.

    If he really wants to make a difference then he should go to a gay bar. He should spend more time with this gay cousin he keeps talking about, and he should make a concious effort to change HIS beliefs and attitudes instead of preaching to the media about what a homophobe he is.

    So if I go to the media and tell them that I’ve realized I’m a racist, that I can’t get into cars with black people or go to a Kanye West concert because he’s black, that makes it alright? As long as I admit it then it’s fine?? I think that’s a load of shit.

  4. jon says

    i don’t know anything about this guy’s music, but good for him for recognizing his own homophobia and trying to correct it. doesn’t seem like a PR thing either…..since he certainly risks losing fans among his core base.

    glorifying himself? hardly, he is admitting to personal flaws.

  5. Rad says

    I appreciate his comments, knowing that it is very hard to address homophobia when the environment you work in is directed more towards the urban and not the artsy. It is a shame that… I just… don’t think Kayne West has any real talent, other than to pull off a really good visual impersonation of Lenny Kravitz. I listened to him perform on SNL a while back, and ended up muting the segment until he was done. Kind of struck me as a rap version of Lou Bega. Very misogynistic. Very dated. Very irritating.

  6. says

    I don’t think Kanye should have to immerse himself in gay culture to facilitate understanding and acceptance.

    Personally, I’d prefer that rappers, whether they are of the Kanye West variety or the 50 Cent variety not speak on homosexuality, period. I don’t feel like I need his support anymore than I need another rapper’s bashing.

  7. says

    …perhaps the only good that may come of this is recognizing (finally) how rampant homophobia is in the hip hop community…Regardless of what people feel of West, the dialogue has begun.

    I can only imagine how difficult it is to be gay in the black community when there is such bravado and machismo between men, with the implication of being “less than” if you’re black and gay.

  8. Jay says

    What a tolerant bunch we are…Are only certain types of people now allowed to speak on homosexuality?

    Kanye’s talent notwithstanding, he is talking about a topic that is still taboo among much of his core fan base. As much as it may irritate some Towleroad readers, he is quite influential with many young people.

    I hope he continues to speak on the subject, and I certainly do hope he visits a gay bar, spends more time with his gay cousin and further breaks down the walls of homophobia, particularly in the black community. We’ll see.

  9. says

    It’s not the sex; it’s our lack of status. Most heteros are afraid to be associated with us poor oppressed gays because the consensus is that we just don’t count.

    Most US rap stars have spent the last decade boring us all to tears with their I want to be rich/successful/rich/powerful/rich/respected schtick. Consciously and unconsciously, gays represent a powerful threat to that myth, because apparently we represent weakness, failure and social opprobrium.

    It’s ironic, isn’t it? Too bad Kanye can’t see that. He doesn’t want a faggot in his car because a faggot means he’s weak. The sad part it that he doesn’t seem to be aware that being afraid of what other people think of him is his real weakness.

    Kanye’s conscience tells him that its all bullshit, wow great; now he should pay a little more attention to his heart’s telling him, too.

  10. jakejustice says

    his comments would be more meaningful if he wasnt so damn proud of himself for saying them. his ego casts suspicion on not only their sincerity but the substance of them. he acts as if gays are lepers. i bet some of his buds are gay and he doesnt even know it. what if someone said the same thing about african-americans– can you imagine? none of us should be applauding him.

  11. marvin says

    How nice for Kanye. Maybe I can get together with him and discuss how I’m afraid to get in a car with black people because I don’t want to be seen with them. Or go into a bar full of black people. Or walk down the street at night with black people out of fear they will rob me.

    There, I feel so much better getting that off my chest, now love me for it!

  12. Damon says

    I totally hear you Jay, I think the anti-West responses would be flipped if it was Gyllenhaal.

    Sorry Wayne if he doesn’t like pride parades. I hardly like going to them either. Most of the floats have nothing but overworked, twink muscled boys dancing in bikinis. :) And I feel the acceptance as I have my ass gripped 10 times in one night.

    Sorry if he doesn’t like to go to gay bars. Quite frankly, as a black gay teen, I hate going their too. Most of the guys there are white looking to hangout, talk, date and have sex with other white guys. The only times I’ll ever get any attention or conversation is when I go to an exclusive club or bar dedicated towards gay black men who are into gay black men. I honestly doubt its because of homophobia in the black community.

    Kanye said that he simply didn’t feel comfortable because it would hurt his career. Wayne, please, most people are afraid of getting in the same bus with gay people and their careers have nothing to do with publicity. The damn man is acknowledging his own prejudices and saying it needs to change.

  13. Charles says

    In total agreement, Damon. I totally think that if Kanye West were white, the posters on here would be falling all over themselves to praise him for being so open-minded. Whenever I hear gay guys bitching and asking “Why are black people so homophobic?” I wonder whether they ever stop to listen to and look at themselves and wonder why are white gay men so racist-seriously, ya’ll. It only seems that black people exist for gay men to use as an example to get their own way and then to bash when they talk too much. It’s pathetic and a bunch of these posts are just reinforcing that view.

  14. says

    >>I didn’t want it to hurt my career.”

    This malevolent bastard was more worried about his career than the rights and feelings of other human beings. I strongly suspect his issues with homophobia are strictly business related.

    He needs to get his ass kicked by a group of Drag Queens.

  15. cl says

    “This malevolent bastard was more worried about his career than the rights and feelings of other human beings.”

    Well, hate to break it to you, but *most* people are more concerned with themselves and their careers than with the other people’s rights and feelings. Sucks, but there it is.

  16. Damon says

    Thanks Charles.

    Exactly. Its situations like these where I honestly question my “loyality” towards the gay community. I’ve been to about 5 gay sites dedicated towards dating(andor)hooking up and in the majority of profiles I mostly see, this comes up…

    “No fats, fems, or blacks.”

    “No Asians, blacks, old guys, fems, or fatties.”

    “No black or asians, sorry, just my preference.”

    “Only into whites/hisp”

    “No black guys. Sorry, just not what I’m into sexually.”

    “GWM is what I’m mostly into but if your hot and hispanic, thats cool too.”

    When I came out, it was like a dream come true, but when I honestly started exploring what was on the other side of the fence…

  17. John says

    I applaud Kanye for speaking out but he does seem a little egotistical about it. How many other rappers have stepped up? None that I know of who are mainstream. Let a positive be a positive.

    In regards to Damon’s statements about dating profiles, I also see the same thing on many black profiles. “Black or Hispanic only.” “No Whites.” I understand that sometimes it can make you mad. It does to me too when I see a hot black, hispanic etc. profile that reads exclusion. But on the other hand, we all are allowed preferences. If not, we would be forced to date chicks. :)

  18. Oscar Gomez-Montes says

    I wonder what is so difficult to accept a gay person. Perhaps is because like me the experience was not a pleasant one.
    After 7 years with a black guy and a terrible break up, I can’t stand black people.
    I don’t like to deal with them or see myself with them.
    Nevertheless I leave them alone and hope they leave me alone.
    Live and let live.

  19. says

    Charles,

    I am hardly a racist. My post had nothing to do with whether Kanye was white or black or any other color of the rainbow. I questioned his motives for speaking out. I don’t think they are genuine. Period. Regardless of his race. I would have reasoned the same way if Jake G. said the same thing. It’s people like you that play right into the hands of the racism machine. Just because Kanye is black I cannot question his motives? Questioning Kanye’s purpose can hardly be compared to hatred towards african americans.

    and to address Damon’s comments, who cares if someone prefers asians over blacks. tops over bottoms. a personal preference in men is hardly a reason to sound the racial alarm. I mean, we all prefer men over women, does that make us misogynists? Hardly. On the same token, the majority of us turn our noses up towards older aging men. That doesn’t make us ageists either. Sexual preference is completely different than hate. I refused to be sterotyped as a racist simply because I don’t think a person’s motives are genuine.

  20. deathrock says

    White queer folks are always tryin’ to deny how racist they are. All whites are racist to some extent. Once you bring it up to a white person, they get all defensive, deny, deny, deny, and then try to turn it around and accuse you of being the racist the one. Kanye takes a stand against homophobia, talks about how he still struggles with his own homophobia and vapid white queers give him flak for it. Huh? Who cares what his motives are. He is attempting to be an ally, and he is only being honest about what he has learned from a deeply homophobic society. Jake what’s-his-face tries to water down queer issues in his new movie, and ya’ll eat it up. Kanye speaks openly about queer issues and against homophobia, and all the white queers act like he bashes fags in his free-time. That’s racist. Quit trying’ to front. White queer folks need to start talking for real. Start acknowledging your shit and deal with it. You don’t develop your preferences in a societal vaccum (a majority of queers turn their noses up to older aging men cuz our society devalues the elderly and just wants them to die or go away) and ya’ll just look dumb tryin’ to come off as some queer white male ghandi. BUT it’s not about who prefers to date who. It’s about how everything “gay” is automatically equated to mean gay white male, which translates into them getting all the money, power, resources, healthcare, setting their agendas/priorities etc. over other groups of queers/lesbians of color and working class queers. White middle class feminists in the 1970’s learned the hard way, but the gay movement ain’t gonna get anywhere near towards equality until white queers put down their issues of Us Weekly and start incorporating other issues such as class and race into the equation. Oh, and I think Gold Digger rocks. Get down girl go head git down.

  21. jon says

    i always figured that everyone – white, black, whatever – naturally has racist tendancies. fact of life. the act of recognizing this in yourself and trying to get beyond it is a good thing, right? how can it now be?

  22. Jay says

    Unfortunately, I agree there’s plenty of racism and bigotry to go around on all sides. Admitting it, though, is a first step to addressing it and getting beyond it. It would be nice if all of us were more real with each other in day-to-day life instead of in blogs, message boards, etc.

    To me, Kanye West not only acknowledges and admits his own bigotry towards gays, but he acknowledges and admits how ridiculous that bigotry is/was by the silly examples he uses.

    Maybe I missed something here, but I interpreted his remarks as he has moved beyond that bigotry. For example, he says, “at one point I wouldn’t even get in the car with him…”. That implies to me past and not present attitudes. I get the impression from these remarks and previous remarks he’s made that he used to be bigoted towards gays but no longer is.

    Whatever Kanye’s motivations, just talking about it openly serves to break down some barriers between the larger black community gays and black gays. That’s a good thing in my book.

  23. seti says

    So Kanye is uncomfortable in homo situations? BIG DEAL ! So what’s new ? Join the line Kanye. Sorry I am not into this celeb trip. Who gives a damn WHAT he or the other bigots think? It ain’t going to change anything. My take – we don’t know what goes no when the lights go down, period ! So I am NOT impressed with any so called expression by so called celebs. Life will go on with and without Kanye’s opinion of his “homo feel so scared” experience!

  24. Damon says

    To John: I’ve come across a few black profiles like that and I’ve also found 30 more profiles from white men denying black men for each of the first.

    To both Damien and John: The point is not just preferences. I always hear the “we’d all date chicks arguments” all the time whenever I bring up a plausible situation that honestly needs a lot of thought and reflection.

    There is something strange when you deny a person, white, black, asian, hispanic, etc, not just sex but intimate love. There is something deeper than just the surface. If it was as superficial as it seemed, we’d all be fucking chicks too because their just “preferences”. I want to hear it outloud. What exactly is it that would make men turn other guys away simply on the basis of RACE?

    Try to sugarcoat it all you want but there’s something troubling about it.

  25. Damon says

    BTW: MY point isn’t to try and somehow force white men to become interested in black men.

    To Oscar: I think your just trying to piss people off but it does enable me to reveal to everyone that I do have a small prejudice against gay white men. Not one where I don’t find them attractive but one where I think their honesty and trustworthiness only goes so far. I hate to think that and I’ve never though until I begin to explore what was “out there for me” in the gay community.

    BTW Damien, if its so simple as you say, can you give a reason why you turn down older men? Not some superficial reason, but the actual hardcore truth? And if you favor one race of men over the other, please give us a reason for that. Not a reason of justification, you have nothing to prove to anyone….but yourself. But I’d still just like to prove my point that it all goes deeper then what you’d like to think it is.

  26. Cristián says

    As I read the second paragraph or even the part where he says “There was a point I wouldn’t even get in the car with [a gay] ’cause I didn’t want people to see me with a gay person”, it’s sort of curious how if by doing the exercise of replacing “gay” with “black” in every place, it comes out exactly as how some white people used to think back in the days of the KKK; or if replacing it wih “jewish” it´s how some Germans used to think; or even if using “women” how some men even today in some Latinamerican or Arabian circles still do think.
    They say that in any type of therapy/change process the hardest part is to take the first step of admitting there is a problem (discrimination in this case?), so I guess Mr. West must be starting to step into some right track somehow, isn’t he?

  27. Robbie says

    What difference does it make if its Jake or Kanye. Jake is a Jew. Kanye is black. Jews tend to be secular and very liberal so it’s easier for him than for Kanye who is part of a religious Christian culture.

  28. NancyP says

    Give the guy some credit, he is at least taking the first step, and providing by example an alternative to homophobia for his young (and not-so-young) fans. The perfect is the enemy of the good, so accept a first step, else you aren’t likely to see much change at all.

  29. PSMike says

    of COURSE he’s afraid to be seen with anyone gay for fear of being called gay. ..and it ain’t the Christian right doing that shit..it’s us. Before you start throwing rocks…..at least get off that high horse (a lovely piece of mixed metaphor…)

  30. andy in UK says

    Hearing Kanye West’s examples of his own homophobia did get my back up – but that’s cos i’m (we) are naturally sensitive in this area. But i respect him for at least talking about it, and admitting that he’s got a way to go. That takes courage. And I dont remember any other rappers with his profile (or any profile?) willing to tackle homophobia in the culture at large. I’d love to take him to a gay bar, but generally the music in them is an embarrassment here in London, and I dont think that would help my cause.

  31. poppy says

    I certainly agree that Kayne’s statements were brave and was miffed about the early accusation that they were not. I think it is incredibly hard to admit to some sort of inclination towards prejudice, especially when trying to correct that behavior. If he were to admit to his own feelings of homophobia and not try to correct them, that would not be very brave. If he were to deny existing homophobic feelings, even while feeling that they were not right – again, not brave. Even if he was raised to be totally down with homosexuality (I don’t actually know whether he was or not, but this is not the general case) and only associated with people who thought there was nothing wrong with it, it would not be terribly brave of him to make a statement discouraging homophobia. But because there is a lot of homophobia in society and in the hip-hop world, Kayne admitted to homophobic feelings that he was working to overcome, encouraging others to do the same. And because he is a celebrity – and we all know that those folks are tracked down, and quoted, and have many a rumor started about them and their personal lives – well, I sure would call him courageous.

    Additionally, homosexuality is not as obvious a trait as, say, race or gender. It is also a trait that is often hidden. This results in gossip about people’s sexual orientations, particularly if they are seen in, oh, gay clubs or hanging out with queers. I am not in any way implying that this (the possibility of having one’s self implicated of gaydom) *justifies* fear of gays, but I do think it may explain why it is more difficult for a straight person (even one who is *not* at all homophobic, themselves), living in a largely homophobic society, to frequent gay spots or publicly appear with gays. [And the comparison with going to ‘black clubs’/etc. is weakened in this, because one will not be accused of ‘being black’ if they are hanging out with black people. There will not be rumors that ‘so-and-so is black/female/Asian/old/etc.!”. That would be evident from the beginning, presumably.] Fear of being labeled as someone who there is a large prejudice against in the world is an understandable one, and an especially realistic one for a famous person who could have such a label dispensed at any moment or for someone whose career would, most likely, be at stake if such a label was dispensed. So a straight person (and celeb) discouraging gay-bashing = brave, as well as good!

    Another point – one which many on here have made more articulately – is that honesty is brave in itself and Kayne’s stance is very honest, indeed. He implicates himself of some unfavorable behavior and attitudes and addresses them as such – and who among us is willing to do that, themselves? I hardly am! I will confess that get very nervous if I become aware that I hold any prejudices and would be wary to admit to anyone that such thoughts had ever even half-way crossed my mind, but I definitely get the remarks about whites/all races being inclined to some racist behavior. We are inclined – perhaps subconsciously only, at times – towards prejudiced attitudes towards and wariness of those different from ourselves, and we, too, must learn to ‘fess up and overcome it. Kanye takes a good step in adjusting his own homophobic attitudes, as well as (hopefully) influencing the attitudes of others who look up to him.

    That is why, as a celebrity, it is relevant that he is saying this. I mean, I could say, “Hey, y’all, stop the gay-bashing, already”, but my words would not fall upon many ears, nor would they really affect the opinions of many, because who the hell am I to them? They’ve never heard of me. Celebrity culture is insanely prevalent and influential in our country/world. Deny it, if you will, but it is true!

    Hmm. All rambles aside, and more concisely, Kayne:
    -is honest about his own prejudices (which is very hard to do)
    -explains that his prejudices are silly/wrong and that he is trying to get over them
    -encourages others to do the same
    -does all of this publicly
    -goes outside of a level of comfort and general support to do so
    -does so even at the risk of alienating fans (and he is in a commercial, capitalist, popularity-based business – *big time*).

    Go, you!

  32. says

    i can’t believe what i’m reading here…

    seriously. what the heck? look, i’m sorry but if WE can’t even get over ourselves how can we expect the “others” to bother to even try to get “into” us? not EVERYONE is out to get us, people. i mean, someone opens dialogue in our favor and all you can do is attack him? does that make ANY sense? even if you are skeptical, atleast give the man some props for getting homophobia into the hip hop public sector. homophobia is as disgustingly rampant in hip hop as sexism. while many celebs have called rappers out on the sexism, noone has ever brought THIS up. Especially not while at the top of their game. whether they’re doing it for themselves or not (considering how dangerous it is to associate with gay anything as a rapper, i seriously doubt Kanye is), atleast they’re doing it. sometimes in this world, unfortunately, you gotta take the good with the bad.

    also, everyone is racist to some degree. i’m always amazed to see a substantial amount of black gays at mainstream gay bars here in NYC. i dunno if it’s self-segregation or not but black gays and white gays are like night and day. you just don’t see them together. however, i’ll say this: when’s the last time you saw a black man on the cover of a mainstream gay publication? and how often do you? Noah’s Arc withstanding, how many black gay characters have you seen on television? and how often? and let’s not just stop there. how many asians? how many overweight? look, we as gay people are always so quick to say “that’s not fair” to the majority, but what about ourselves? as someone mentioned, you see/hear it all the time: “i don’t do black/asian/no fats or femmes” i mean, wtf? if we can’t even be accepting and inclusive of ourselves, how can we expect other people to?

    so let’s stop arguing. let’s stop blaming hetero’s for doing what they should be doing. let’s try to do something about it. someone here wrote they don’t deal with black men because one hurt him. wtf is that? here we are dissecting everything Jake Gyllenhaal or Kanye West say as heteros about gays yet we’ve got gays saying ignorant things like that about other gays and that’s perfectly ok?

  33. HisHolynessDPope says

    “we’ve got gays saying ignorant things like that about other gays and that’s perfectly ok?”

    We have the right to discriminate… government cannot take that right away.

    Just let me have first crack at the young choir boys and the government can do whatever it wants.

  34. gman says

    If you saw Kanye speak on gays in the MTV interview you saw some real emotion pouring out. I don’t know where that came from, but it was inspiring. Hope it woke up a few people. The man constantly states how he is looking to grow as a man and searching for understanding in this complicated world. He’s not even thirty. Give him some time to see where he goes with his life.

    As far as being black and feeling frustrated by lack of acceptance by white guys (if that’s your preference), well, I’m white, my ex is black, and we both just treat everyone as a human being. He has an amazing personality and people of all ages, races, creeds, and religions love the guy because he just is who he is and doesn’t bog down at all in the outside shell. He prefers white guys sexually, so what? He still offers the same respect to everyone and he inspired me even more to be totally accepting. I thought I was, until I really saw someone who REALLY was. It’s in the attitude. There’s a lot of people out there for black guys who are attracted to other races. Just don’t belabor on the people who have a different preference. It’s a big world and a lot of opportunity is out there.

  35. Melyssa says

    I personally think Kanye is a “undercover” gay himself!! Dont get it wrong, i love Kanye but he does act a little faggish sometimes!!( his cloths,pictures and tey way he act in public)

  36. Mr. Jun says

    “Grammy Family” is the second single from DJ Khaled’s album Listennn… The Album. It features Consequence, Kanye West and John Legend. In the music video, there are cameo appearances by Common, Rick Ross, Fonzworth Bentley, Fat Joe, GLC, members of Sa-Ra, Dre and Really Doe. It also appears on Consequence’s album Don’t Quit Your Day Job!.

    Released: June 6, 2006

    “Yeezy got a vision that’s clearer than Evian
    Used to hit the radio them faggots ain’t let me on
    Until Khaled turned up the volume.”

    ~ Kayne West

    Point? He’s full of shit and with every issue he tries to tackle, he backpedals.

  37. Ryan says

    Thanks Kanye for speaking out. I applaud y ou for having the balls to say what you have said. I would rather you acknowledge your fear than ignore them. Acknowledgement is the first step in overcoming them. I am an out gay man. I am very proud and very secure of myself and my sexuality. I know lots of people are not secure with their sexualty and homophoebia. It takes time to embrace something that is different and that has been looked down upon for so long. Baby steps forward are better than no steps. Keep doing what your doing helping make a difference. One day we will live in a world where people wont have to fear their careers by having gay friends!

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