Author's Note: Spur of the moment (and eventually scrapped) writing for my Gender Communication class. Definitely not the most conservative piece I could've written (if abiding by Christian principles) but this needed to be said.
No musical genre is exempt from stereotypes, but it comes as a revelation to very few that the hip-hop community does not welcome the concept of sexual fluidity into its confines with open arms. Often criticized much more than it is despised, society's lenses typically inspect the genre in search of what is perceived as misogynistic lyrics, racial epithets and glorification of drug and gang culture. Nevermind the numerous artists whose catalogs are not repetitive and do not harp on such themes. It, apparently, is of no relevance that said artists, unlike their peers/competitors are nowhere near as privy to the limelight and/or the outlets which would secure proper promotion. Would the inclusion of socially conscious rappers be more of a threat to fellow MCs whose cliche hits oversaturate the radio or hip-hop's detractors, a party not likely to accept there is more to the genre than what the mainstream media showcases? Nonetheless, I wish to address the imposed rigidity of the male gender within the walls of the hip-hop community.
Comprised of primarily black artists, it might as well be an unspoken truth that masculinity is "law" and anything even hinting to deviate from such presence and assertiveness is "taboo." Thus, as expected, fans and industry figures alike were taken aback when singer-songwriter Frank Ocean announced that his first love was a man. Confusion ensued, at a fundamental level, as to how R&B singer Ocean could align himself with Odd Future, an alternative hip-hop collective with no qualms about usage of homophobic language. But despite the abstract Ocean remaining ambiguous as to whether he is gay or bisexual, he has become a sitting duck to peers who sneak to degrade via snarky comments relating to sexually transmitted diseases and "real men". No red flags began to surround Ocean, a man known for singing and writing songs from the female perspective, not even with the inclusion of the pronoun him in "Thinkin' 'Bout You" or mention of pom poms in "Forrest Gump" - items in which today's society all but unanimously deems as feminine. Still, Frank Ocean's "skeletons" led to a departure of admirers and acquisition of a new flock. And because his lyrics aren't oversexualized and are prone to examine love from a scarcely acknowledged angle, "Frank Ocean, the queer" has placed a bull's eye onto his own back.
Bearing the aforementioned in mind, I remain open enough to understand the argument that as Frank Ocean is not a rapper - and what's more, not a widely known star by any stretch of the imagination - public awareness of his sexual fluidity is perhaps not as monumental as the media portrays it. And to eradicate some of the prejudices and misconceptions about gender identity (particularly, the notion of how a man should behave towards his female contemporaries) I would highly advise skeptics to take the the initiative of broadening their viewpoints on the issue of masculinity. First, it is prudent to realize that it is not blasphemy for a man to wear emotions on his sleeve. Equally as important, being respectful towards females is not some sort of automatic negation of heteronormativity (this is to say, a male is not "whipped" or being a"wuss"). Suggesting it is 'crucial' to be cognizant of the fact that today's standards do not begin to encompass the depth of what 'man' is and has the potential to be is a grave understatement.
Yet another form of action I'd implement is a mandatory withdrawal of the mainstream hip-hop movement, which has become dreadfully static and conditioned the world to believe a faux truth - that an abundance of wealth, lovers and overpriced jewelry leads one down a golden path to happiness. Controversy surrounding Frank Ocean had just begun to fizzle when lesser-known, independent rapper Murs made two bold statements in the video for his single, "Animal Style" - the first being a kiss shared with another man, the second wearing a sharing donning the text, 'Legalize Gay.' Both were jabs at the hip-hop community for the audacity of black artists, once an oppressed minority regarded as subhuman, second-class citizens, to condemn the LGBT community. Likewise, English singer Marsha Ambrosius "Far Away" is a tribute to members of said community who commit suicide as a result of bullying which stems from homophobia in schools, in the workplace or simply the world at large. Finally, though I do not make the claim of expertise in all matters pertaining to heterosexuality, I am ever-conscious that history has time and time again shown us we can never hope to move forward with a glimmer of positivity for future generations if people insist on pouncing on that which is thought "abnormal" or "freakish," as such behavior only detracts from meaningful goals and makes spectacles out of diversity.