February, 2014 / Author:

Noteworthy GLBTQ* highlights and lowlights

Here are recent and memorable moments when musicians became allies or foes to the GLBTQ* community.

THE ALLIES

Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, American Top 40 pop and hip hop artists, land at the top of our allies list for their song “Same Love.” The song takes a firm position on gay marriage, stating “no freedom ‘til we’re equals, damn right I support it.” Stemming from growing up with a gay uncle, Macklemore challenges all straight people to view gay rights as human rights and challenges other hip hop artists to stop using the word “faggot” because it’s “a word rooted in hate.” Extra props earned by asking openly gay artist, Mary Lambert, to co-write and lend her voice to the song.

 


Speaking of proud out artists, 2013 saw country music’s first male singer come out. Steve Grand did it by writing “All American Boy,” a song rich with images of all American boys doing all American things — 4th of July partying in ripped jeans and tight white Tees while drinking whiskey by the fire. It was a risky endeavour for Grand to wade in on traditional images and ideals from a closeted gay narrative in a music genre that does not often have progressive voices. Grand’s style, looks and lyrics will bring some new fans to country music, and for that his contribution should be celebrated by the country music industry.

 


Winnipeggers have an ally in DJ Mama Cutsworth as she continues to offer workshops for women and transgender people on the art of spinning. She is a pioneer among women DJs and empowers individuals using an already powerful medium: music! Music has the power to unite us, no matter how different we are — it allows us to feel, and it’s good to feel something.

 


IN MEMORIAM

Lou Reed passed away in October 2013. The 1972 hit “Walk on the wild side” was a raw account of a trans prostitute. Rare are those who are able to resist singing “do de do, de do, de do, dooooo”. Some even sang gleefully, “shaved her legs and then he was a she.” The vulgar honesty of the song made it sad and powerful instead of crass and offensive. For that, Lou Reed remains an ally to the marginalized.

 


THE FOES

R&B singer Flo made the news not for her impressive voice but for what she chose to say with it. She declined performing at Winnipeg’s Pride Day in 2012 because of her strong religious beliefs, subtly hinting at her fervent beliefs that “homosexuality” is wrong, or a sin, to use a religious term. The news hit when she was performing at a youth conference hosted by the Manitoba Human Rights Commission. Unfortunately, or rather pathetically, Flo was not instantly dumped nor did she try to nuance her position outside of saying; “I’m not going to be the one who is ever going to judge for their sexual orientation. I mean, for goodness sakes, I’m coloured, right?”

 

 


Eminem released The Marshall Mathers LP 2 in 2013, marking the return of a no BS Eminem, not afraid to defend his lyrics, including the word “faggot.” The song “Rap God,” for example, has him rapping: “I’ll still be able to break a motherfuckin’ table over the backs of a couple faggots”. The derogatory term does nothing to help our cause and confirms that any number of other words could’ve been used in its place.

 

 


– Eric Plamondon is a Winnipeg-based freelance writer.

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