It’s no secret that rap music has had a less than stellar track record when it comes to topics concerning the LGBTQ+ community and hyper masculinity. I’m sure if you were to ask the average music consumer their opinions on the current state of homophobia and transphobia within the rap community, they would come to a similar conclusion about the continued disappearance of these ideas. It is somewhat comforting to believe that this style and type of rapper is long gone but that doesn’t seem to be the reality.
Just earlier this year in an interview with Rolling Stone Magazine, the widely popular rap trio Migos made less than stellar remarks about fellow Atlanta rapper iLoveMakonnen’s recent decision to come out, alluding to the idea that his sexuality made many of his songs less valid somehow. While it may seem easy to brush these comments off as trivial, it’s hard to ignore the popularity of Migos despite these comments. For a few months at the beginning of the year it was impossible to go to a church baptism without their most popular song, Bad and Boujee, playing. You’d be hard pressed to find a song Quavo wasn’t featured on during the summer of 2017. No matter where you turned, Migos were there.
Simply put, despite how insensitive and blatantly homophobic these comments from the group were, they have had no issue finding airtime and support within contemporary Black America. What message should the black LGBTQ+ community gather from this development other than a lack of respect for our right to feel accepted and appreciated for who we are?
One of the most phenomenal qualities of music is its ability to connect people to each other and tune a person into their own emotions. An exceptional amount of misunderstanding in those who have homophobic and transphobic beliefs is the conclusion that those who do not identify as heterosexual are fundamentally different from themselves. Human throughout history have shown their irrational attachment to the idea of in-groups and outgroups. While I refuse to support the notion that listening to a few songs by queer artists will turn a raging homophobe into an accepting ally for the LGBTQ+ community, it can open the door for conversation.
As a community, it is vital to support Black Queer artists who are often some of the first Black artists to be openly non-straight in their genres. The music industry is one big popularity contest, and Black artists in the LGBTQ+ community are likely to remain unsigned or denied collaborations with other prominent artists if their demand and fan base is nonexistent. Beyond ensuring the continued prominence of Black LGBTQ+ artists within the music industry, as a woman attracted to other women, it can merely sing along to songs love songs with correct pronouns.
For these reasons, I have decided to take on some of the leg work. Below is a personally curated playlist of both well-known and lesser known Black LGBTQ+ artists to help get you listening and supporting.
--KAYTRANADA//GLOWED UP (feat. Anderson .Paak)
Louis Kevin Celestin came out as gay in 2016
Christopher Francis Ocean came out as a bisexual man in 2012
--The Internet//Get Away
Lead Singer Sydney Bennett identifies as a lesbian
Khalif Diouf identifies as a gay man
--Mykki Blanco//Loner (feat. Jean Deaux)
Mykki Blanco identifies as a trans and multi gendered person, who has gone by several pronouns throughout her life and career
--Angel Haze//No Limits
Angel Haze identifies as an agender pansexual person.
--iLoveMakonnen//Love (feat. Rae Sremmurd)
Makonnen Sheran came out as gay in early 2017
--Tish Hyman//Dreams (feat Ty Dolla $ign and Fabolous)
Latisha Hyman identifies as a lesbian
--Taylor Bennett//Favorite Colors (feat. Luke Tennyson and KYLE)
Taylor Bennett, the younger brother of Chance the Rapper, identifies as a bisexual man
Michele Sherman is an androgynous gay rapper from NYC.
Gene Thompson identifies as a gay man
Kehlani Parrish identifies as a lesbian