No homo(phobia)? Hip-hop's shift in anti-gay tone
FILE - In this Feb. 21, 2001 file photo, Elton John, left, and Eminem appear together after performing a duet near the end of the 43rd annual Grammy Awards, at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. Anti-gay sentiments have been entrenched in hip-hop for decades. Eminem, widely known for offensive lyrics toward homosexuals, has joined Jay-Z in saying people of the same-sex should be able to love one another. (AP Photo/Kevork Djansezian, File)
NEW YORK (AP) — Snoop Dogg has rapped in songs where gay slurs have been tossed about.
He's even said them, part of a long list of rappers who have freely used the f-word — the other f-word — in rhyme.
For years, anti-gay epithets and sentiments in rap have largely been accepted, along with its frequent misogyny and violence, as part of the hip-hop culture — a culture that has been slow to change, even as gays enjoy more mainstream acceptance, particularly in entertainment.
But while perhaps glacial, a shift appears to be on the horizon.
"People are learning how to live and get along more, and accept people for who they are and not bash them or hurt them because they're different," Snoop Dogg said in a recent interview.
Frank Ocean may be largely responsible for that. The rising star, who revealed on his blog last month that his first love was a man, is technically an R&B singer. But he has produced and collaborated with some of music's top hip-hop acts, from Jay-Z to Andre 3000 to Kanye West to Nas. He's also co-written songs for Beyonce, Justin Bieber and John Legend, and is a member of the alternative rap group Odd Future.
"When I was growing up, you could never do that and announce that," Snoop said of Ocean's revelation. "There would be so much scrutiny and hate and negativity, and no one would step (forward) to support you because that's what we were brainwashed and trained to know."
When 24-year-old Ocean made his announcement, he received a ton of support from the music world, mainly through Twitter and blogs, including encouraging words from 50 Cent, Nas, Jamie Foxx, Def Jam Records founder Russell Simmons, Beyonce and Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Even Ocean's Odd Future band mate, Tyler, the Creator, showed some love, though he's used homophobic slurs in his songs.
FILE - In this Nov. 17, 2011 file photo, Frank Ocean arrives at the 16th annual GQ "Men of the Year" party in Los Angeles. There has been a small shift with homophobia's standing in hip-hop, and that's partially thanks to Frank Ocean, who revealed on his blog in July 2012 that his first love was a man. (AP Photo/Matt Sayles, File)
"(The support for Frank is) an extension of the overall kind of support we're seeing across the country for LGBT people, and not just in a broad sense, but specifically from iconic members of the black community," said Daryl Hannah, GLAAD's director of media and community partnerships, who namedropped President Barack Obama and Jay-Z as those leading the change.
While the support for Ocean is strong, and some rappers — including Nicki Minaj — have said a gay rapper will soon hit the music scene, it's still hard to imagine that the male-dominated, macho rap world could include a gay performer.