article titled, "Does Kanye Dress Too Gay." In the article
she discusses Fonzworth Bently, Andre 3000 and the history
of flamboyant dressing amongst African American men
through out pop history. Gates writes,
With the current onslaught of homophobic rageGiving Kanye a little context, the way he dresses makes more
against Kanye West and his globally chic crew
(comprised of style maverick Fonzworth Bentley
and Taz Arnold of musical group Sa-Ra to name a
few), it seems like Generation Y has all but forgotten
that the ritual of expressive dress was in fact borne
of the black-male community. If young audiences
would dare to conduct a comparative study, they'd
inevitably find that Kanye West’s 2007 Grammy outfit
really had nothing on Eddie Murphy’s red-leather
get-up in his 1987 stand-up film Delirious, and that
Prince and his bedazzled unitards would quickly
render André 3000’s Top-Siders and patterned
suspenders meek and perhaps even typical.
sense especially when it is seen as being rooted in the history
of African American male performers.
I see the fascination with both the way that Black men dress
and the fascination with Black male sexuality as being rooted
in American history as well. Black sexuality was central to the
development and growth of the United States. It is perhaps
natural that as a nation we continued to be fascinated with
what Black people do with their bodies sexually.
The day after I read Elizabeth Gates article, Robbie Ettelson
from Unkut posted several images
of old school hip hop artist, and I was surprised to find
a picture of Big Daddy Kane wearing see through pants
with white lace underwear. I immediately thought, he
would be called 15 kind's of gay if he were to wear that now.
In hip hop, Black masculinity has come to be so narrowly
defined that if you do not embody a masculinity that
closely approximates 50's then you are by default
feminine and gay. Word?
What ever happened to the range of expressions of Black male
masculinity? The *Trinity Doctrine is what happened.
Within the last two month two teenage boys have committed suicide
as a result of being continually bullied, harassed and called gay.
In April, both 11 year old Carl Joseph WalkerHoover and
11 year old Jaheem Hererra hung themselves, in two
seperate incidents, after incessantly being teased and called gay.
Lets be clear, women in general and Black women specifically occupy
a subhuman status in our culture.
For Black women there is street harassment, the under or unreported
rapes, we are overworked and underpaid, we over represented on the
poverty statistics and we are disproportionally represented in new
HIV case statistics.
There is a connection between being homophobic and hating women.
In many ways homophobia is rooted in the hatred of women.
Think about it this way, one of the stock disses in hip hop is to
say that the other emcee:
1. Is feminineI see the rationale as being, "your a man, why would you ever
2. Soft like pussy
want to be like a woman, they not even human, just some shit
that's fuckable." I call it the "We don't love them ho's" doctrine.
Hence the homophobia.
*The Trinity Doctrine, by and large is responsible for such
a limited view of "true" Black male masculinity in pop culture.
If, rappers need to be Gangsta's/Thug's to move significant units,
and if hip hop is the predominant vehicle through which Black men
are presented in the media, then there is both a supply and
demand for limited, unsustainable, unhealthy views of
In 2007, I wrote a post titled, "Are N-ggas Really that homophibic?"
which led to an interesting conversation in the comments section
amongst both male and female readers about the fear and homophobia
in hip hop.
I ask again. Almost two years later:
Does homophobia seem particularly stronger in hip hop
then in American culture at large?
Were you aware of the two boys that committed suicide?
Did you follow my connection between the hatred
of women and the hatred of gay folks?
Do you agree? Why or why not?
For more reading check:
When Bullying Leads to Suicide by [The Root]
My piece, Jeff Chang, Total Chaos and Hip Hop
*The Trinity Doctrine is based on a reading
of Tricia Roses Hip Hop Wars, and I use it to describe the
Gangsta/Thug/Ho archetype that is the dominant narrative
in 2009 corporate hip hop.