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Kanye West to Fans: Don't Use the Word 'Fag'


A YouTube clip of the final minutes of a Madison Square Garden performance of Kanye West's Glow in the Dark tour on August 5th shows the rapper speaking out against homophobia and anti-gay slurs.

Apologies in advance for my rough transcription.

"Open your fucking minds. Open your minds. Be accepting of different people and let people be who they are. You know how many people came to me calling me gay cause I wear my jeans the fresh way? Or because I said hey, dude, how you gonna say 'fag' right in front of a gay dude's face and act like that's ok. That shit is disrespectful. Coming from Chicago, where if you saw somebody that was gay you were supppoed to stay ten feet away. It should be time to break out of the intuitions that I was sayin', the steretypes, or the fear, the backlash that I would get if you don't believe in what I believe in, acceptin' people for who they are...they're very talented and if they do something special in the world and they're discriminated. I've flown across the world y'all, and I've come back here to tell you — open your minds and live a happier life..."

It begins about 1:45 in on the clip, AFTER THE JUMP...

Kanye West: Still Not Gay [tr]
Kanye West and Ne-Yo: We're Not Gay! [tr]

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  1. Thank you kanye West

    Posted by: Jimmyboyo | Aug 7, 2008 10:00:00 AM

  2. The music industry is one of the most homophobic industries in America. Sad that it's gone this way. I partly blame gay people for failing to see it coming. You've been too soft on MTV, an organization which has promoted a host of homophobic rappers and rockers.

    Posted by: jason | Aug 7, 2008 10:07:57 AM

  3. I'm not a Kanye fan, but I have appreciated his speaking out about homophobia. For a mainstream hip hop artist, thats a pretty big deal. You will never see someone like Eminem or 50 Cent saying this kind of thing, thats for sure. Their beloved thug images are too precious.

    Posted by: Wes | Aug 7, 2008 10:08:25 AM

  4. I can't even imagine Madonna saying this from the stage.

    Posted by: John in Manhattan | Aug 7, 2008 10:12:22 AM

  5. Keep in mind that homophobia is pronounced in the black musical community. We as a gay community need to criticize those black musicians who have homophobic attitudes. We should not be scared of criticizing them simply because we don't want to be perceived as racist. It is NOT racist to criticize a black man for homophobia.

    Much of the public hate towards gay and bi men is coming from black rappers and hip-hop artists. Don't shirk from criticizing them.

    Posted by: jason | Aug 7, 2008 10:15:19 AM

  6. It's astonishing to me that there is STILL so much homophobia in the entertainment industry, given that there are so many gays and lesbians in the production chain. Without gay and lesbians to make the shows, music and books happen, where would we be? Yet, bigotry persists.

    Kudos to Kanye for encouraging understanding and condemning homophobia. Oh my, Kanye ADULT! There should be more like him.

    Posted by: Nathan James | Aug 7, 2008 10:16:45 AM

  7. Preaching to the (mostly) converted at MSG, no?

    I hope he repeats this tirade in the flyovers, too.

    Posted by: jeffy | Aug 7, 2008 10:26:53 AM

  8. That's awesome...

    Not only is he opening up Hip Hop music to new things Coldplay, maroon5, John Mayer...

    But he's also trying to open up his fans to accepting people...

    What other rappers doing that?

    I mean what other rappers has even thought of using gay or homosexual in a positive way?

    Thanks for posting this TowleRoad!

    Posted by: MadisonKid | Aug 7, 2008 10:27:34 AM

  9. Interestingly enough, I was walking by Madison Square Garden after work that day. The area was full of suburban white preteen and teen boys all dressed just like him. They were hugging and laughing and playing together in little groups. Just excited to be in New York. I had no idea it was just before the Kanye concert, but I thought, "Wow. A lot of these kids are pretty gay, and pretty open about it." It's not at all how I remember high school, and I'm glad the world is changing for the better. We should be able to be who we are. The kids will show us the way.

    Posted by: JTluvr | Aug 7, 2008 10:29:35 AM

  10. Why in the world would Madonna say something like this at her concert? More than half the audience at a Madonna show is gay, and the rest are middle-aged women.

    Kanye should be commended for saying this to his audience. But jeez, not everyone is in competition with Madonna.

    Posted by: crispy | Aug 7, 2008 10:37:25 AM

  11. Help an old man out! What does it mean to wear jeans in the "fresh way?" I'm hoping it means that the era of the crotch at knee level is ending.

    Posted by: KJ | Aug 7, 2008 11:01:48 AM

  12. Read and learn...

    Madonna Thanks Moscow’s Homophobic Mayor Luzhkov for Gig

    Unlike Elton John's impassioned plea for tolerance in Warsaw, Madonna ignores plight of Russian gays.

    Posted by: John in Manhattan | Aug 7, 2008 11:02:00 AM

  13. Kudos to Kanye! Love his music, love his personality (a little narcissistic but hey), and his style.

    As for John in Manhattan pointing out that Madonna hasn't done anything similar. I'm pretty sure he was speaking in general terms, that no other mainstream artist has so boldly denounced homophobia the way Kanye has continously done.

    Posted by: Shabaka | Aug 7, 2008 11:03:21 AM

  14. To WES - I'm not a defender of Eminem, but it's worth noting that in 8 Mile (as a character) he sticks up for a gay man who is being attacked by another rapper. I think his words are something like "So what if he is gay [...] He's gay, YOU'RE a faggot".

    Posted by: Sasha | Aug 7, 2008 11:36:23 AM

  15. What a decent and generous gesture!
    Live and let live.
    Thanking the Kanye.

    Posted by: Nonplussed | Aug 7, 2008 11:37:08 AM

  16. good on kanye.

    Posted by: nic | Aug 7, 2008 11:40:01 AM

  17. Fascinating, John. But what the fuck does it have to do with Kanye?

    Posted by: crispy | Aug 7, 2008 11:49:27 AM

  18. I have always been stunned that any group of people that has been a minority, and one that has been repeatedly stepped on, could themselves support homophobia. If you have ever been a victim of racism, you know what it's like to be punished for simply being who you are. I have never understood why homophobia is so rampant among black Americans. Or many Hispanic ones, too, for that matter.

    Posted by: Alan | Aug 7, 2008 11:55:09 AM

  19. Jason, I don't understand why you have to single out *black* musicians for homophobia. Last I checked, country music wasn't exactly a bastion of gay tolerance.

    When you say, "We as a gay community need to criticize those black musicians who have homophobic attitudes," why don't we just take out the word black and leave it at that, hmm?

    Posted by: Sami | Aug 7, 2008 11:57:36 AM

  20. Thank you Sami. Jason?

    Posted by: soulbrotha | Aug 7, 2008 12:22:51 PM

  21. Thank you, SAMI

    I think that many of us have simply given up when it comes to white gays to love it when they have the opportunity to use black homophobia as an excuse to unleash their racism (which they already had long before they ever heard some IDIOT black homophobe begin to spew anti-gay garbage out of his big, beautiful lips).

    Also, are certain white ethnic groups less accepting of gay people than others? If so, why don't y'all single them out also?
    Not that I really care anymore.

    Maybe many white gays don't criticize white homophobes with the same passion because they have thier shared hatred of blacks...they can't see pass their shared racism to take on white homophobia.

    We often have to be reminded that many white homosexual men are from the Ernst Roehm School of Homosexuality.

    Heil Hitler to those motha'....


    take a look at economic class for some answers to your questions. Do poor men tend to be more misogynistic--ATLEAST more overtly (big mouthed) misogynistic? And misogyny is the basis for anti-gay hatred among poor men(for poor men the only thing they have of value is their manhood...and you know what they think of the relationship between "manhood and homosexuality".

    The last time I read about the US poverty rate, it was only at about 9% for white folks compared to thirty something percent for blacks. If poor folks tend to be more homophobic in their behavior, then that is part of the answer to your question.

    Posted by: Derrick from Philly | Aug 7, 2008 12:36:10 PM

  22. Well, thanks, Kanye. Too bad you still can't rap for shit.

    Posted by: JeffRob | Aug 7, 2008 12:36:16 PM

  23. Three cheers for West!

    As for why so much of the entertainment industry remains so homophobic when there are so many gays involved, the answer is depressingly simple. It is because the majority of them are, whatever their race, the gay equivalent of "Uncle Toms" who wouldn't think of challenging Massa because they fear losing their place on the porch. And I'm not just talking about the ones in front of the camera, on stage, or at the microphone.

    While more are out "publicly" than ever before, anyone is welcome to refresh my memory, but I can't ever remember a gay writer or director or grip or makeup artist or whatever suing for discrimination whereas virtually every other industry has had examples, from the military to teaching.

    Nor can I remember many standing up for our dignity as a people in anything approaching the numbers we constitute in the industry. Where are the protests from others in the industry when Simon or Randy are doing their antifag tag team attacks on some poor kid auditioning for "American Idol" who doesn't meet their definitions of Idol gender expression? Or when that shark-toothed old perv on "So You Think You Can Dance" does the same thing? Or when one of the "Big Brother" housemates talks about "fags" or "faggots" [or "niggers" for that matter]? Or Marc Cherry throws yet another gay stereotype onto Wisteria Lane?

    What gay actor has ever refused to portray a gay character as yet another nelly queen when such characterization is irrelevant to the plot? With rare exception, from "Hill Street Blues" to "NYPD Blue," straight mega producing partners Steven Bochco & David Milch usually, as Homer Simpson might say, preferred their homosexuals "flaaaming" in their various productions—even casting the same gay actor as a queen in three different series, two as the same mincing stereotype. Yet when the same actor played a gay character on "Picket Fences," its writer/director found no need to instruct him to mint it up.

    And we must not forget the out producer at ABC's "20/20" who helped create and then defend the notorious special by Elizabeth Vargas suggesting both that Matthew Shepard contributed to his own murder and that homophobia had nothing to do with it.

    Posted by: Leland Frances | Aug 7, 2008 1:22:48 PM

  24. "Much of the public hate towards gay and bi men is coming from black rappers and hip-hop artists. "

    What utter bullshit. As others have said, why do idiots have to turn such a positive statement by Mr. West into an opportunity to spout their racist beliefs?

    There's this wonderful illusion that some white gay men have that the source of all homophobia flows from African-Americans or blacks in general.

    When some idiot like Donald Wildmon or Bill O'Reilly spouts homophobia, these same men seem to have a disconnect between the white skin of these men and their homophobia. Similarly, the white skin of Sally Kern means little either.

    Day after day, we can read about powerful whites whose homophobic is without question. They are Supreme Court judges, actors, musicians, politicians, or religious figures. They are male and female. They are part of the majority in the United States.

    Instead of realizing that the majority have control and power, anger is focused on minorities like African-Americans, as if they are the ones who control society.

    Get a grip. The leaders of the Republican Party are not African-Americans. They're 99% white guys. Get it? These are the people who fight against laws to protect gays. These are the men and women who lead the campaigns against gay rights when they aren't trying to whittle away at Civil Rights laws.

    But, it's far easier to blame the Negroes instead of realizing that the real villains are mostly white folks. If this were Europe, some of you would blame the "Jews" or the "gypsies" since they are the minorities who have been most hated and frequent scapegoats.

    Posted by: noah | Aug 7, 2008 1:39:10 PM

  25. Wow, Kanye, thanks for your heartwarming outreach to the Gays. Rappers of the world, listen to Kanye! He speaks of peace and homo-loving. And if you dis him he'll shoot your faggoty ass.

    Posted by: rap a doodle doo | Aug 7, 2008 1:58:10 PM

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