Monday, May 2nd, 2011
Rapper Lil’ B is causing a scene with his recent news that he’ll be naming his upcoming studio album I’m Gay. He’s not only earned some recognition from GLAAD, he’s also received a few death threats, and has lost some valued support from those who once had his back in the game. What do I think it means? Good question.
Lil’ B is something new. Something we’ve not really seen before. He’s not normal. Not your average rapper. He’s too comfortable with his sexuality, and that disturbs people. From his song “I’m Paris Hilton” to “I’m Ellen Degeneres,” there’s something about him that makes you tilt your head a bit and go “huh…” Having listened to some of Lil’ B’s mixtapes and after having some extended conversations about the topic, I’m apt to say that Lil’ B, though he does not identify as gay, may embody queerness. Queer need not refer directly to gay or lesbian bodies, but can stand in as a term for all non-normal configurations of sexuality (Halberstam 2005). He doesn’t say stuff “right”, doesn’t do stuff “right” and he is certainly doing something extra-ordinary (that is… outside of the normal), by being a Black heterosexual man who is a near-mainstream rapper and says that he supports gay and lesbian rights.
I don’t know what it means. Maybe it means that in the next 3 years there will be a mainstream “out” gay rapper though and that will certainly be news. Right now, I think we wait and see. We wait and see if Lil’ B can remain relevant and we wait and see if a major studio gets brave enough to back an out gay/lesbian rapper. Let’s not forget him though. Lil’ B is definitely doing something worth remembering.
2005 Halberstam, Judith. In a queer time and place: transgender bodies, subcultural lives. New York University Press.