“How does one live in denial in 2013?”
It’s a question I hear often from friends – gay and straight alike. In their minds, the fight for gay acceptance has evolved so rapidly in recent years that everyone should be rushing to kick down the closet doors. They can’t fathom how such denial continues to happen. I don’t understand why it’s so hard to understand.
We’ve somehow convinced ourselves that anyone who declines to reveal what others perceive to be their true sexual orientation is as silly as it gets given the times. Yes, it is 2013, but what does 2013 look like exactly? Progress has been made, but the problems for gay people are as apparent as ever to anyone who has to face them on a regular basis.
Less than 15 states permit marriage equality. Gay characters on television on network TV are typically lily White and fit heteronormative stereotypes, and when on cable, they may be a little darker in complexion, but they’re often still relegated to second tier status. Some members of the religious community have stuck up for their gay brothers and sisters, but the overall tone from the zealots of the world is "Eww. Icky. God don’t likey."
Yes, there are men like Jason Collins who do courageously declare their sexuality. Ditto for Frank Ocean. Even so, Collins came out towards the twilight of his NBA career where his admission is not only easier, but more or less a shrewd way of opening up a new line of revenue by way of proposed book deals and speaking engagements. As for Ocean, his fellow New Orleanian Lil’ Wayne uses his sexuality as a punchline in song.
So as much as I absolutely loathe living in denial, when I look at men like Hot 97 DJ Mister Cee, as silly as it may seem to lie when caught, it’s even sillier to not acknowledge the reasons why he’d feel inclined to.
To be fair to Mister Cee’s co-workers in that very awkward interview over his second arrest over allegedly soliciting the services of a male prostitute, it was noted, “Your preference and whatever you’re into, it doesn’t matter. You’re our brother.”
That’s the kind of sentiment many gays hope to hear from people they care about when pressed to reveal what’s most private to them. Still, sometimes I worry that people tend to be more open-minded when it’s someone they know, but fail to see how their actions prior to that moment might’ve already made it too difficult for those close to them to be their true selves.
It wasn’t surprising to hear Mister Cee deny the claims with, “People have accused me of being gay for probably ten years now…I don’t care what people think.”
He obviously does, given he did the interview and went into full detail about his controversial past. Mister Cee had to have been under a lot of pressure to “be free,” but clearly didn’t feel comfortable enough to do so. His refusal to tell people what they wanted to hear provided some reasons why.
On the competing Power 105.1, Charlamagne Tha God gave Mister Cee the “Donkey of the Day” honor on Monday and hurled a bunch of gay stereotypes in his direction. Even though Charlamagne has defended gay people before and often reminds us “the kids live for him,” he called him “sis,” “boo” and told him to take the stage in a “Jason Collins jersey and some shirt denim shirts with the ass cut out to a Frank Ocean record.”
Charlamagne was right to say he could make “homosexual hip hop history” by “owning who he is,” but is hard to figure out why one wouldn’t want to subject themselves to this sort of fodder daily to be someone else’s symbol?
I don’t believe in hip-hop being anymore homophobic than other subcultures that take their cues from the mainstream. There may be a uniqueness into how the hypermasculinity is perpetuated, but that quality can be fond anywhere. But, what I would ask to the people prodding Mister Cee about his preferences: What would’ve happen if he said he was gay?
Would the casual homophobia disappear? Would the word “faggot” be removed from everyone’s lexicons? Might gay rappers miraculously find their way on hip-hop stations?
Mister Cee’s interview lasted 45 minutes, 44 of which lasted too long. The only line that mattered was, "Let's say if I'm lying, that's my choice. If I'm lying and I chose not to come out, that's my choice."
It’s a disappointing choice, but it’s also difficult to ask a man to “be free” around people and a culture that made him feel so trapped to begin with.