Rapper 50 Cent's Gay Problem
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The temptation is to chalk the "I ain't into faggots" silly, inane slur that former street thug and hip hop artist 50 Cent made in an interview in April's Playboy Magazine as yet another case of a show boating rapper playing to the street crowd. But 50 Cent's comment and slur is what many black men say publicly about gays and many more say privately, and that includes the slurs. Their contempt for gays is hardly new.
I vividly recall the audience reaction to the scene in the 1971 film, Sunday Bloody Sunday when Murray Head and Peter Finch gave each other a big passionate kiss. The mostly black audience went wild. They screamed, jeered and hooted at the screen. It took several minutes for the crowd to quiet down and ushers to restore order.
As I left the theater, I listened to the young men talk. Their contempt and disgust for these two men spilled out into the street and into the parking lot.
They called them "faggots," "punks," and "sissies." It seemed as if they were trying to scrape the slime off themselves that the scene of these two men kissing had left on them. That was thirty years ago. Rap artists such as 50 Cent, as well as legions of black novelists and poets, have railed against the gay life style as unnatural and destructive, and some have publicly uttered anti-gay slurs without batting an eye.
But three decades after actors Head and Finch kissed in Sunday Bloody Sunday, it's not men kissing on the screen, but gay marriage, and as polls show more blacks, especially men, more rabidly oppose it than whites. The issue still punches hot buttons among black men and threatens and challenges their fragile masculinity at the basest and most ambiguous level.
From cradle to grave, much of America has drilled into black men the notion that they are less than men. This has made many black men believe and accept the gender propaganda that the only real men in American society are white men.
In a vain attempt to recapture their denied masculinity, many black men, mirror America's traditional fear and hatred of homosexuality. They swallow whole the phony and perverse John Wayne definition of manhood, that real men talk and act tough, shed no tears, and never show their emotions.
These are still the prized strengths of manhood for many black men. Whether it's Rapper 50 cent, and his other rap buddies, grabbing their crotch on stage, or the mindless male testosterone driven gang violence that wreaks havoc in black communities, the hunt is on to wave their prized tough guy male virtue to the world. When men break the prescribed male code of conduct and show their feelings they are harangued as weaklings, and their manhood questioned. Many blacks in an attempt to distance themselves from gays and avoid confronting their own biases dismiss homosexuality as "Their thing." Translated: Homosexuality is a perverse contrivance of white males and females that reflected the decadence of white America. They make no distinction between white gays and other whites. To them whites are whites are whites. That's evident in the vehement opposition of many black ministers and black conservatives to any comparison of the fight for gay marriage to the civil rights movement.
Then there's religion. Long before the religious right launched its national crusade against gay marriage, black men listened to parades of ministers shout and condemn to fire and brimstone any man who dared think about, yearn for, or actually engage in the godless and unnatural act of having a sexual relationship with another man. If men had any doubt about the moral truth of this message, there is the oft-cited biblical passage that sternly calls men lying down with men, "the abomination." Ignored are other biblical passages that encourage love, tolerance and respect among all humans.
While many Americans have made gays their gender bogeymen, many blacks have made gay men their bogeymen and waged open warfare against them. Black gay men are the pariahs among pariahs, and wherever possible every attempt is made to drum them out of black life. They carry the triple burden of being black, male and gay. They tell woeful tales of spending sleepless nights and endless days trying to figure out ways to repress, hide and deny their sexual preference from family members, friends, and society.
Polls show that more Americans than ever say that they support civil rights for gays, and a torrent of gay themed TV shows present non-stereotypical depictions of gays. But this increased tolerance has not dissipated the hostility that far too many black men feel toward gays. That won't change as long as they feel that their manhood is subverted, accept America's artificial standard of what a man is, and as long as some black ministers and black conservative leaders stir anti-gay attitudes. 50 Cent is proof of that, slurs and all.
Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst.