Openly Gay Author Responds to XXL‘s Article on Homophobia in Hip-Hop

[Editor's Note: XXL interviewed several people—including author Terrence Dean—to discuss homophobia in hip-hop in the 'Break It Down' article featured in the July/August 2011 issue. See below for Dean's reaction to the piece.]
Hip-Hop’s Open Closet Secret

This year has truly turned out to be the year of gay revelations, scandals, and the universe’s attempt to balance an imbalanced scale in hip-hop. On April 4th, popular New York DJ personality Mister Cee was arrested for sexual lewd acts with a man, (his third arrest actually), and although he claimed it was the NYPD’s attempt for an elaborate cover-up and “take down” of hip-hop’s elite, Cee plead guilty to such lewd acts (Guess they weren’t singling him out). On April 17th, “straight” rapper Lil B sent the hip-hop world into a frenzy when he announced plans to title his upcoming album, I’m Gay. Critics and fans alike have already christened the album a classic despite their hesitations of B being able to deliver lyrical latent content with dope-ly head-banging produced beats to make even non-gay men stand up and recognize his true genius and talent (Snap for the kids!). Then on May 15th, CNN’s beloved news anchor, Don Lemon ‘came out’ and went public revealing he’s gay (A gay news expert in which hip-hop heads get their daily news).

Most recently, comedian Tracy Morgan went on a rant during a comedy routine in Nashville, Tenn., and stated that he would stab his son to death if he found out he was gay. That’s a pretty harsh and drastic measure to take, especially as a parent. I’m certain Morgan, who’s a high profile celebrity in Hollywood, and who works in an industry filled with gay men and women, would’ve been more mindful and sensitive to the very community of people who’ve helped to build, maintain, and sustain the very industry in which he makes his living.

Yes, we are the directors, producers, stylists, actors, singers, rappers, songwriters, managers, executives, crew people, publicists, and agents who shape this industry. Yet, like Morgan, I’m certain many hip-hop heads, or fans, don’t think of the very gay people who have given celebrities a platform so they can have a career. And, I’m certain they don’t think of the very people who’ve paved the way for them to get where they are. Yet, Morgan’s statement is not only a reflection of the state of mind of how many Black people feel and think, it’s also a reflection of how fear cripples us a society.

It’s a delicate dance when we speak about gay men and women in the entertainment industry. There are many who are closeted, or “out” to a select few friends and family members, but when their colleagues go on homophobic rants insulting, and even wishing death upon someone for their sexuality, it truly prevents us from moving forward as a society. Why? Because Black celebs feel they have no safe place to be their true authentic selves without someone criticizing, judging, or demeaning who they are.

Let’s take for example when Queen Latifah played a gay character on the VH1 hit show, Single Ladies, in which she serves as executive producer. On the July 11th episode, Latifah’s character, not Dana Owens herself, is outed because she admits in a magazine article to having a sexual encounter with Stacey Dash’s character on the show. And, instead of allowing the moment to define her character, not Dana Owens herself, she uses it to advance her career. But, Queen Latifah’s character, not Dana Owens herself, makes a publicized television announcement and surprise, surprise, she dances around her sexuality instead using it as a moment to take the conversation and issue to task. (Sidebar: Was this Queen Latifah’s attempt to actually come out herself, and use the guise of the character to do so?)

Look, the reality is that homosexuality is a taboo conversation in our communities. People are afraid to discuss the topic, and if they do some do it with so much venomous hatred that it leads to people being bullied, and in some instances, suicide. It’s time for us to have an intelligent discourse on homosexuality. It says a lot about our communities when we continually attack someone based on their sexuality. And, this is a great time for us to come together with Black and Brown leaders, churches (Definitely Bishop Eddie Long’s mega-church, New Birth), and the LGBT community to have a, Gay In America dialogue. It would be awesome if people did finally speak up and say something. That is how conversations begin. That is how a dialogue is created.

This controversial topic has plagued our communities, and world, for a long time. And, despite the many hush-hush conversations, or speculations of a certain celebrity’s sexuality, not one Black celebrity has come forward. Not one has publicly announced they are gay. Why? You mean to tell me that in this day and age of us having a Black president, and a repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’ that not one Black celebrity will come forward and be who they are, and love who they desire, without fear of judgment or ridicule?

We had a missed opportunity when popular New York radio DJ and music producer, Mister Cee, was arrested for having lewd sex acts with a man, and even plead guilty to the charge. He’s been mum on the entire situation, and, though it would’ve been a courageous and brave position for him to take a stand and speak out on homophobia in hip-hop, he did what so many men, and women, who feel threatened by the broader landscape of heterosexual, male machismo, and high testosterone tossing bravado—Mister Cee shied away from the topic. If we continue to hide, then we make it appear shameful. There is no shame in who you are. God designed and created all of us in his image, and if I am a creation of God, then respect me and show compassion and love just as I do for you.
But, can we blame Mister Cee? The hip-hop community was in an uproar, and the messages of hate spewed over the internet of how no gay person has a place in hip-hop. Really? No gay person can have a place in hip-hop? I think a lot of people will be disappointed to learn that much of the music, style, and culture is influenced and created by gay people. By the way all you fans of hip-hop, many celebs and people who work in the entertainment industry are aware that their colleagues are involved in same sex relationships. It’s just not common or public knowledge.

So, yes, the reality is that gay men and women are in hip-hop. We are very much ingrained in this culture, and have contributed to it in ways you’ll never imagine. You’ll even be surprised to know that hip-hop not only started in the Bronx, but there were gay people right there at the inception of the movement. And, many of those lyrics you chant and reminisce to from years ago to present day, uhm, yeah, we spit, rhyme, and wrote those, too. In the words of Beyoncé, “Who run the world? Gays.”

*Terrance Dean is the author of Hiding In Hip Hop, and the new novel, mogul. It’s available in bookstores everywhere and at

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  • josh

    This article is so gay…..

    • dwayne carter

      yes very gay

    • Francis

      Predictable response from an immature and insecure person. Dismiss the article and the writer with some childish insult since you can’t even begin to discuss the real issues.

      • phil

        your response makes this article seem hetero

  • Francis

    Gay men in particular run the music industry and entertainment industry in general. This has been known by people “in the know” forever. Just because greater America can’t handle it because of their own irrational hang-ups don’t make it a reality. It’s just now the realization of that reality is actually starting to set in for everyone else.

    Ultimately, it comes down to who makes good music and who doesn’t, and that has nothing to do with who screws who in the bedroom.

  • LexAndProfosy

    anyone who considers “im gay” a classic album must literally be retarded, fuck outta here

  • RealkTalk

    Don’t give a fuck about gays, they aren’t fixing shit in this world.

    • Francis

      Are straight people? Do you define a persons’ character and human value on their sexuality?

  • OFrison

    Wow, to think we have advanced on so many issues in this country, yet to use what someone does behind their private bedroom door as a way to measure in any way the quality and character of an individual is absolutely ignorant!

  • Kiddo

    This article really over defends gays, sometimes we see a gay riot or a “gay revolution” and we say OK they aren’t hurting us, so we cut them some slack, but to say that they run the hip hop industry and so on. Hurts me as an amateur rapper and I don’t know how pro’s can react to such words.

  • Face Phoenix

    I think the subject of homosexuality in hip hop has always been handle immaturely but at the same time would a genre fueled on debauchery, truth, bravado and fantasy thrive if we heard openly gay rappers on the radio. It hasn’t happened or been truly successful in other genres with out songs or music being as non specific as possible. A truly gay love song would tank on the charts… it becomes more or less a novelty for a niche audience. Whether we admit it or not the current and past music scenes have always been based on image. I ask you this would ppl have loved 2pac as much as they do if they never say him and found out he was a white middle class man who just sounded black? I doubt it. The perception that he was the young, black, virile rebel who would not be silenced and that added to his legend but if he was a buttoned up gay rapper w/ khakis and sweater would ppl have given him even a first listening? Record Labels went to lengths to hide their artists ethnicity from radio stations in 50′s & 60′s in order to get spins is it no less the same now? No. I don’t support gay agendas but neither am I trying to be antagonistic to what they seek. My only gripe as of late is that The Gay Movement has seeming superseded the more relevant issues of today in the media. I respect what GLAAD and other organizations want but when they compare their plight to that of African Americans during the Civil Rights Movement I take offense to that. They share a similarity – yes but they are far from the same. The Fruits of the Civil Rights Movement were paid in blood and i am sure the body count and sacrifices or that movement far exceed that of the Gay Rights Movement. I have gay friends and respectfully disagree with their life choices as they probably feel the same about some of mine. I try to be understanding and considerate of their feelings but I also make no qualms about my viewpoint.

  • o.skino

    Who really cares if the majority of hip-hop and the entertainment industry were run by gays (which i think is false anyway)? Really? What does it matter if the industry is being ran by Homosexuals pretending to be heterosexuals… it defeats the purpose of the whole argument… So they run the show, but lets the entire industry & world believe they don’t? (BS)… Jews run the entertainment industry… and everyone knows it!! Blacks do the song and dance.. and whites collect the check… and everyone knows that… if these Homosexuals were really in “the chair of power” it would be known, and they would be setting the example.

    • correctionz

      “Jews run the entertainment industry… and everyone knows it!! Blacks do the song and dance.. and whites collect the check… and everyone knows that…”

      I think the poster meant “Jews collect the check…and everyone knows that”

  • Angryman

    Gays are fine, if you think you don’t like them or whatever, get a gay friend and see whats up. THERE NOT GONNA MAKE YOUR KIDS GAY, OR MAKE YOU GAY EITHIR. We have to stop treating gays like honkeys treat us, its hypocritical son. Also don’t let that stupid fucking book tell you who’s bad and who is good, figure it out yourself, goddamn. The bible promotes as much hate as it does tolerance.

    • Guest

      You should not call your own people honkeys and stop posing as a black man.

      • Angryman

        I’m Mexican…so fuck you

  • truthtnt

    it exist but everyone turn a blind eye but soon we will have a shocker hope the Hip Hop world can handle it .ask the video girls about them

  • big b

    “Yes, we are the directors, producers, stylists, actors, singers, rappers, songwriters, managers, executives, crew people, publicists, and agents who shape this industry.”
    If you want people to change their view on homosexuals, you can start by being rational. Faggots are a minority, how the fuck can they run errthing



  • Guest

    In reality Lil B is Gay, his just on DL

  • Pingback: “Mister Cee Shied Away From The [Gay] Topic” | Cash Money Artists


    i would kill anyone who comes out as a fag i remember the dayz when Eminem said lyrics like “hate fags the answers yes” probably the best lyric ever written in a rap song!

    • FUCKYOU2

      Yo. I’m gay. What the fuck you gonna do, bitch?
      I’ll tell you what you’re gonna do, you’re gonna talk shit about killing me and just call call me a fag 27 times, then you’re gonna slap your girl for burning dinner in the microwave. Enjoy that sad as fuck life of yours, bitch.

      Also, leave the Caps Lock off. You ain’t intimdating, you just look stupid.

  • wreh

    I think theres a difference beetween being AGAINST them and not bieng gay. Personally, not meaning to offend all you gays out there, I’m against them because its just not natural for a man and a man or in other cases a women and women to have relations. But honestly in my opinion we shoud not hate them either, because we also would be wrong. So basically, PEOPLE WAKE UP! JUST BECAUSE WE DONT LIKE GAY PEOPLE DOES’NT MEAN WE HAVE TO HATE THEM! The bible says dont hate, and if you’re so christian then follow the word, and not be gay, but dont hate either! Note: Im not gay, I freaking love women. Sorry to end that so childishy, well not really i am a child so ya.

  • AH-croen

    based god aint a faggot

  • john

    well i see the biggest story from hip hop weekly magazine was left out and one of the biggest stories of hip hop this year so far was left out.
    Transgender Toni Newman made comments about 3 celebrities *black* about ll cool j, eddie murphy, and hot 97 dj mister cee and she had sex with mister cee over 20 times giving him blowjobs. Not 1 of these 3 black men have come forth and said this is a outright lie. Not 1 of these celebrities have spoken directly addressing these statements. Mister Cee i understand has said yes he knows toni newman. This story was on 15 of the biggest black radio stations and on cover of hip hop weekly magazine which sold more copies than it ever has. Her book I rise-the transformation of toni newman is a pretty good read and her story and her life. She wrote about those people she ran across in her life and her journey. I read terrance dean’s book hiding in hip hop and i read his book mogul and both are ok but his point was more about exposing the gay/bi side of hip hop. I am a gay black male and listened to terrance dean before and the black culture is not ready to embrace it for real. The black community is not ready to embrace the gay/bi/transgender side. The black buying public is not ready to embrace that their favorite artists are gay/lesbian/bisexual. It is the black culture as a whole *hip hop, rap, church* not ready to accept god loves us all regardless. That is why the black actors and artists are afraid to come out and speak the truth the black community is not ready to hear That LL Cool J is bisexual. It is hard to speak the truth when you are afraid and that is a direct quote From Ms. Newman’s book. I mean terrance dean’s book mentions ll cool j character, wendy williams says she had proof he was on down low, Ian Halperin of says he has sure proof that ll cool j is bisexual and former def jam insider is writing book now with direct evidence ll cool j is on down low. This has been stated over 15 years that ll cool j is on down low. This guy has not spoken one word directly to address this and he refuses to go on radio and he refuses to address this directly. He is afraid his image would be destroyed if he says yes i am bisexual and i have had bisexual experiences. His marriage would probably finally fall apart and the image that he is hot goodlooking rapper/actor would be destroyed and all his songs were for the ladies and his lip licking is all for the ladies.

    The reason is FEAR.

    • JANICE

      yes i am black transgender and i also read my sisters book I rise by toni newman (I like). I use to hang out with a rapper in atanta and he was terrified that someone would find out he is bisexual. He presented this image to the public that was totally the opposite of his real personality. He would say homophobic comments just to come across that he is against gays/lesbian/bisexual/transgenders. I would read his comments and when he called me i would say i cant believe you said that an he said i have to say those things and keep this image going to sell my records.

      He is and was totally Afraid and engulfed with FEAR.

  • Rick

    I am a black man. I can’t understand why so many black people feel that it is ok to openly hate gay people. If white people made the same comments about black people that black people make about gay people, they would be criticized.
    A heterosexual person who is comfortable with his sexuality has no need to be worried about gay people destroying they marriage unless they gay themselves and are pretending to be straight

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