The man who brought you rap for Jesus (“Jesus Walks”), Kanye West, went on record yesterday in support of gays during an MTV interview and that’s got to be a good thing overall but I couldn’t help but laugh during one part of the story. (I’m sorry but “yo” is as silly an expression as “yea” to me and very nearly as silly as “behold”, but you probably would’ve had to have been there.)
Realizing that “gay” has become an antonym to hip-hop, West contended that hip-hop has always been about “speaking your mind and about breaking down barriers, but everyone in hip-hop discriminates against gay people.” He proceeded to clarify: “Not just hip-hop, but America just discriminates. And I wanna just, to come on TV and just tell my rappers, just tell my friends, `Yo, stop it.’”
Certainly the term “gay” has come to represent any thing that isn’t hip and it is one of my least favorite popular expressions (I literally cringe when I hear someone use it.) It is a glib, pedantic, chronically over-used term and I am in total agreement concerning its negative effects on a hip-hopping-abbreviated-expression-seeking generation. Using the term “gay” in the pejorative sense is just another way to show what little command of the language you can achieve, and must only be appealing to small-minded, barely-motivated faddist followers. If your expression skills still are primitive, chances are you’ll find pleasure in rating something as “gay” but you’ll seem childish to me for doing so. As much as I hate to do this I must say that it is gay to use the term “gay”, okay? As desperate as that was, I needed to get my opinion across. Capeesh?
West says that when he was young, people would call him a “mama’s boy.”
That’s certainly the quickest and one of the most brutal ways to discover how hurtful labels can be. Though why do we need to experience repressions first-hand before we accept that they are wrong? Can we not use our imaginations?
“And what happened was, it made me kind of homophobic, ‘cause it’s like I would go back and question myself,” West says on the show, “All Eyes on Kanye West,” set to air Thursday night (10:30 p.m. ET)
According to West, he changed when he learned he had a gay cousin.
“It was kind of like a turning point when I was like, `Yo, this is my cousin. I love him and I’ve been discriminating against gays.’”
Sadly it has become cool to say something is “gay” and there’s a reason for that. When you have no respect for something you have no regret for reducing it to a one syllable put-down. Others consider your rash assessment and too often find it succinct and enviable. Soon all of your friends are saying “gay” this and “gay” that and if someone hears it who happens to be gay, mores the pity. Eventually they’ll get the message that everything “gay” is, by definition, bad. Everything! Even gay sympathizers must stop and wonder, for once and all, if their reasoning abilities are reprobate.
We help to popularize slang-terms and use them to communicate complex opinions and positions, as if any of them could ever prove adequate. One isn’t likely to seem articulate for offering mono-syllabic grunts of derision for the things s/he despises. Yet the myriad of feelings and fears we carry onward are each, all too often, summed up for us with that one cretinous epithet “gay” and it isn’t nearly good enough for any of the purposes it serves.
Props to Kanye for having the courage to take a stand, even when that stand could then take away from his ends.