Do not mention the 213 utterances of the word “faggot” on Tyler, the Creator’s Goblin album. I don’t care if the CNN reported it. It’s a fabrication, and anyone who has spent time listening to the record knows the actual number hovers somewhere between ten and twenty. This story is unusual enough without cooked numbers.
Do not call this a non-issue. Some of us think we live in a nation where sexual orientation and skin color aren’t obstacles to how we embrace one another. But post-racial America is a fantasy, and the ongoing political discourses regarding gay marriage and employment rights are proof positive that we aren’t there yet. Frank’s step is still a brave and commendable one that is not without its risk to his career, and our comfort with it should not blind us to other people’s opposition to it.
Do not overstate the importance of this moment. The overwhelming majority of famous black artists still identifies as straight, and fear of being perceived as soft or gay makes most hip hop artists quite leery of engaging with the gay community. Wale’s shucking and jiving over performing at a DC gay pride event in 2010 and Queen Latifah’s statement regarding her performance this year’s festivities reveal a hip hop community still eager to keep the gay community at arm’s length.
Do not stick microphones in front of rappers for pull quotes. Rappers have a florid history of saying and doing stupid things when put on the spot about homosexuality, and confronting them with questions about it is fishing for headlines. You either get a negative quote and ensnare the artist in a career-damaging gaffe, or you get a positive one and coldly stretch the lifespan of the story for page views. Neither outcome seems very appetizing.
Do not sensationalize or objectify this moment for personal gain. Bloggers’ view of artists as meat for the content grinder is deplorable, and the near-constant navel-gazing of the think piece circuit is water logging the internet in inconsequential chatter. This is someone’s life we’re talking about. Someone’s love. Someone’s livelihood. I realize speaking about these matters with the amount of gravity and understanding they’re due is about as easy as dislodging from the third dimension and surveying the world from the fourth, but please keep the bullish, archaic thinking to a minimum. Show some respect. As you were.