When rappers are taking to the microphone and spewing gay vague or homophobic nonsense with the obligatory "no homo", they mean it in more ways than one. The hyper-masculine and homophobic code of hip-hop and rap also includes not "playing" gay or "down low" rappers on television, After Elton reports.
On an episode of last season's hit new FOX show Lie to Me—called "Better Half"—the storyline featured a dead rapper who turns out to have been gay (or rather on the "down low) and in love with another rapper. Editor Michael Jensen reports the shows’ writers, Steven Baum and David Nevins, decided they wanted to cast an actual rapper in the role to build some street cred "and draw more viewers. And since Lie to Me aired right after the hugely popular American Idol, they thought there would be definite interest from the hip-hop community." Nothing could be further from the truth.
STEVEN BAUM: I knew...it was going to be a very difficult role to cast because it was going to be tricky to get ... a famous rapper to play gay on network television. And here we are on after American Idol, one of the best showcases for any rapper and when we initially put out the word that we were looking for rappers for a guest spot on the show, there was tremendous interest in the part and a lot of jockeying.
Then when it became clear that the character was gay, suddenly there was radio silence because in the hip-hop community, it’s still such a barrier. I knew it would be an issue, but I never that would actually…
AFTERELTON: Who did you end up getting for the part?
DAVID NEVINS: It was an actor, not a rapper.
SB: In fact, [some] agents were concerned about even bringing the proposal to their clients for fear of a, you know, "Are you crazy?" backlash. It was very, very disappointing.
More or less along the lines of when Kanye West famously spoke out against hip-hop's homophobia and gay-bashing in 2005, very few rappers or hip-hop artists would even comment.
So it's okay to portray a thug, murderer or drug dealer on television or film, but, it's not okay to "play" a gay rapper on a highly rated tv show? That speaks volumes about the stigma of being LGBT in the black community.
Rappers Said No Way to Gay Role [After Elton]
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