Why staying silence about homophobia speaks louder than words.
Existing on this earth is not easy; living, too, doesn’t come easy. Living and existing as a minority is a life-challenging mission that is difficult. I feel and hurt too.
Expression is an important factor of life and each person has the right to express how they feel. Music and comedy have for the longest time been used as outlets for expression. However these channels have become an outlet for messages of hate and homophobia. The media keeps tiptoeing around addressing the issues of minorities, and what hurts the most is that instead of helping fight the discrimination and division, the media further fuels the problem.
Why do I say homophobia isn’t what is used to be? What was deemed as conventional homophobia still exists: gay bashing, corrective rape and the like. But many forms have emerged of late that seem to escalate the subjecting of LGBT+ human beings to continued discrimination. Is the media doing anything to stop or address this through content that is being circulated in derogatory music?
Hip hop has been known to be homophobic from its history, through the lyrics and mindsets within the genre. It doesn’t seem like it will change anytime soon because the media allows these songs to be played on our radios and on our TVs, and we are all “fine” with it. Why is that? How do we change this deep-rooted status quo? The year is 2017 and the question still comes up: “How homophobic is hip hop?” It’s an interesting question – and one that keeps coming up – where even prominent artists in the hip hop scene have had their sexuality questioned and have subsequently set barriers. This has led artists like Kanye West to criticise the community at large.
“Hip-hop seemed like it was about fighting for your rights in the beginning, about speaking your mind, and breaking down barriers or whatever,” West said. “But everybody in hip hop discriminates against gay people. To me, that’s one of the standards in hip hop is to be like, ‘You fag, you gay.’”
But then again I would revert to my premise: is homophobia so difficult to challenge that artists would rather, through their lyrics, implicitly gay bash rather than address the issues at hand? How about they use their noticeable creativity to exert more effort?
There is no denying that issues of sexuality have, for the longest time, not been easy to raise. Even worse, open conversations are shunned upon. One way we try to introduce or understand issues is through humour; but instead of comedy being a vehicle for making life bearable, bringing happiness and living up to the saying that “laughter is the best medicine”, some mainstream comedians always find a way to include homophobic remarks in their repertoire. Ultimately this medicine has become bitter. Homophobia isn’t what it used to be because we’re allowing it through humour and satire. We allow it, I believe, because we buy tickets to these shows and we chuckle and are amused at our own expense, often without realising that by not speaking up, we are doing nothing to stem the flow of homophobia. See how these homophobic forms keep shifting?
“You are such a cool gay, you are different from other gays.”
These phrases always break my heart and it’s with these phrases that homophobia is inflicted through a subtle manner. How it is okay for straight people, in an effort to not appear homophobic, to exclude other gays on the bases of ‘coolness’? What determines whether one gay is cool and another isn’t, and why should one be discriminated against on the basis of that? And because we are looking to feel accepted we remain silent on the issue. In our communities there is this silent homophobia – the passive aggressive one. Is it possible that homophobia will never be eliminated?
There are still elements to explore here to now to bring artists and the media to address the elephant in the room: when are we all going to start speaking up instead of remaining silent?