This post is by Terrell Frazier, a Fellow at GLAAD who works in our Communities of African Decent program.
Last weekend, up-and-coming musical artist Janelle Monae appeared at Atlanta’s Black Gay Pride festival, a celebration that draws LGBT African Americans from all over the country. According to the Southern Voice, during the opening ceremony "Monae pledged to be a strong ally for black gay men and lesbians, who she called 'bold and fearless' for living their lives openly and honestly."
Monae can be included in a growing list of young black artists who not only defy musical barriers, categorization and industry expectations, but also reach out to diverse groups and demographics.
Recently, rapper Kanye West took time between songs at a concert at New York City's Madison Square Garden to urge his fans to “open their minds,” "be accepting of different people," and speak out against homophobia and discrimination of gay and lesbian people.
Like Kanye, Chicago rapper Lupe Fiasco has also garnered media attention by speaking out about sexism and homophobia in society and in hip-hop. While performing at the University of Michigan in October of 2007, Fiasco fielded some questions from his fans. According to Michigan Daily:
The questions were often pointed — not surprising for an outspoken artist known for the political content of his lyrics.
A fan who proclaimed himself to be “an openly gay man who loves hip-hop” asked the rapper where he fell in the spectrum of hip-hop artists who have expressed contrasting views on homosexuality and the gay community.
He pledged support for gays, among other groups, because he said he supports anyone who faces discrimination.
These artists, and the media covering their efforts to speak out against anti-gay attitudes, should be commended for helping to change the hearts and minds of many in the hip-hop community and beyond.