Last week, Tyler the Creator had the Internet on fire when lyrics from his upcoming album leaked online. On the song “I Ain’t Got Time,” he rapped, “I been kissing white boys since 2004,″ and on “Garden Shed,” featuring Estelle, Tyler wrote, “That was real love I was in / Ain’t no reason to pretend.” Conveniently, the lyrics made it to social media less than a week before his album Scum F**k Flower Boy drops this Friday, July 21.
To keep the conversation going, a video dropped this weekend of Tyler saying, “I don’t like Black dudes at all. I’m into White guys.” He also said he had a sexual attraction to vans (yes, vans, as in the automobile).
If Tyler is in fact gay, then he is clearly grappling with deep self-hate about his sexuality. In 2011, the rapper proudly used the word “f-ggot” 213 times on his album Goblin. He justified the slur with, “I have gay fans and they don’t really take it offensive.” See the bizarre exchange below:
In 2014, Larry King asked Tyler if he thinks there will ever be a “gay rap artist.” Tyler said, “Maybe one day…but why does that sh*t matter? Like, if he wanna f*ck dudes or whatever, why does that matter? Why do we care? That’s so crazy, right?”
Actually, that sh*t matters because Cakes Da Killa and Le1f can rap circles around 90 percent of hip hop artists (including Tyler) on the radio, but do not get the exposure or respect they deserve. It matters because there have been countless LGBT rappers and R&B singers shut out of the music industry because of their sexuality. It matters because, for decades, Luther Vandross was forced in the so-called closet due to the real fear he would lose his career if people knew he wasn’t heterosexual. It matters because 80 percent of LGBT people killed are minorities. Tyler may not realize how much “that sh*t matters” in his privileged bubble of fame, but it f*cking matters. America is not post homophobia.
On the other hand, the rapper might not be gay at all, which is probably more realistic. He could be trolling the Internet for press, retweets and to be a trending topic. If Tyler is using sexuality as a way to drum up press for his latest album, that is seriously offensive and far from creative. People are bullied, killed and commit suicide over their sexual orientation. For many, sexuality is a life or death issue. In addition, going with the far-fetched idea that Tyler is actually gay, he also showcased his self-hate by saying he only dates white men. Tyler has no idea about the contentious issues of racism within the LGBT community. The complicated problems of online profiles that read, “No Blacks, no Asians” not just from white gay men, but Black men as well. Unknowingly and disappointingly, Tyler tapped into the intersection of Blackness and gayness with no intellect or accountability. Maybe being allegedly “gay for press” is a lane Tyler should avoid.
Stop Rachel Dolezal-ing LGBT and queer identities.
Over recent years, there has been a theme of celebrities using the LGBT community for edge. Nicki Minaj famously lied about being bisexual. Jessie J claimed she was bisexual at the start of her career then changed her mind. Even Gigi Hadid and Zayn Malik, who are on the cover of Vogue, bizarrely described themselves as being gender fluid. Gender or sexuality should not be a storyline for a career come up, it’s socially irresponsible and fraudulent for any artist to remix their identities for attention. Stop Rachel Dolezal-ing LGBT and queer identities.
Tyler, or any other celebrity, should be responsible with queer identity, considering the lives of LGBT people of color are equally at risk and invisible. If, indeed, Tyler is a gay man, he clearly has work to do. From his use of the word “faggot” to refusing to date Black men, the rapper would be the Kodak Black of the LGBT community.
Clay Cane is the author of Live Through This: Surviving the Intersections of Sexuality, God, and Race. The opinions expressed here are his.