Hip-hop artist Yitz “Y-Love” Jordan is known for crossing barriers. Born to a Puerto Rican mother and an Ethiopian father, Y-Love converted to Hasidic Judaism in 2000, subsequently studying at Jerusalem’s Ohr Somayach yeshiva. He straddles the worlds of hip-hop and Hasidic Judaism.
Y-Love is now prepared to add another dimension to his public identity. In an exclusive interview with Out.com that broke today, Y-Love has come out as a gay Jewish man of color.
“I feel like I have wasted years of my life worrying that my ‘public reputation’ will be negatively impacted by my identity. Now that I'm over 30, I simply can't care as much about what people think, despite the prospect of alienating the community I dedicated my life to as an artist and a man,” Y-Love said about the timing of his coming out. “My hope is it will open their eyes – and hearts. I’m ready to live authentically. I'm ready to find a husband. I'm ready to live without fear of being outed or the stress of keeping my whole self from people. And I've waited too long to do that.”
Y-Love is releasing his latest album “Focus on the Flair” today. The album will bring a new, authentic voice to the hip-hop world and the LGBT community. "If anything, I'd say that being closeted about my sexuality gave an edge of anger to my tracks, which, while couched in revolutionary terms, stemmed from a place of inner anguish and frustration,” Y-Love said. “‘Focus on the Flair’ is my first album where I feel like my music reflects an inner happiness and joy instead of primarily an inner conflict. And that is a reflection of what it means to come out and be true to oneself – the joy, the relief and the hope. I hope that is what people will see and focus on.”
Hip-Hop and Hasidic Judaism are two communities not known for supporting LGBT people. “So many conservative-minded hip-hop fans have listened to me to be their ‘voice of Jewish values’ for so long that I'm sure some will huff off in disgust at seeing the real me. What will not change is my art. My rhymes will still be 20% Hebrew and full of Jewish quotes as always,” Y-Love understands that some of his audience might struggle with his honesty about being gay, but he also expects that his revelation may find him a new audience. “I also fully expect that these people who no longer find me "appropriate" will be replaced by fans who can truly appreciate the real me -- with a particular emphasis on LGBT hip-hop fans, who I think will be able to identify with my struggle and triumph and have few out artists and role models.”
When Y-Love released his first mix tape in 2005, the world took note of the first African-American Orthodox Jewish hip-hop artist. Y-Love gained worldwide praise with his first album “This is Babylon,” which propelled him to high profile appearances including BBC World TV and Late Night with Conan O’Brien.
GLAAD congratulates Y-Love on coming out, and wishes him well as he continues to create music that will cross boundaries and promote understanding in the Jewish, Hip-Hop, LGBT, and cross-cultural worlds.