Happy Pride Week Month!
Remember when Jason Collins came out, forever enshrining his name as the Gay Jackie Robinson (or something like that), and we all took a collective sigh of relief then wrote tons of articles about how he was "the perfect representative"?
Then Michael Sam came out pre-draft and we thought, "Yes! What a great example to show that gay football players can be masculine and tough!"
But Fly Young Red -- the Houston-area openly gay rapper that gained notoriety when everyone thought Lil Wayne's had signed him to his Cash Money label -- might be the real messiah for those that live in the intersection of the "Gay" and "Black" Venn Diagrams.
Here's his now-hit single, "Throw That Boy Pussy":
(please note that as of this writing, that video has over 1,170,000 views.)
It might seem crazy, especially after watching that literally in-your-face video, but this guy might be just what "the movement" needs.
As professional athletes, Jason Collins and Michael Sam debunk the notion of homosexual femininity, but you can go your whole career as a sports celebrity and never have to make a statement about your personal life; in fact we celebrate those guys that let their play speak for itself. When they lead by example, it will be by leading a life that says, "gay people are just as normal as you are."
But as an artist (and yes even mediocre rappers qualify as artists), your personal life is one of the few things we have to go off of when putting your work in context. Your feelings are the forefront of the conversation. And the real goal of an artist is to be and express as much of the true "you" as you possibly can. If "you" is Fly Young Red, then when you lead by example, it will be by leading a life that says, "gay people are just as fucked up as you."
And that's a powerful thing.
In an interview with Clay Cane over at BET, Fly Young Red (born Franklin Freeman Randall), was asked some pointed but fair questions about his motivations when it came to his hit single. But Red was quick to remind Cane (and those that were ready to call bullshit on him) that he never expected this to see the straight light of day: "I made this song for gay clubs, I made this video to play in gay clubs, so when everybody got their hands on it and took it and ran with it, I just wasn't expecting this. Not at all."
Sure there are other gay hip-hop artists and to quote Ebony's Michael Arceneaux, he's not the "Frederick Douglass of male on male fellatio," but this message and this image has never been so neatly packaged for mass consumption/acceptance. Fly Young Red can say, "I wanted to talk directly to the guys I see dancing in the club. I wanted us to have something of our own. And that's why I did it and this is what happened," and his song may have been crafted for a relatively niche audience, but his unabashed authenticity only makes him that much more appealing.
And he has answers to fill all the holes one might think to poke...
Oh you hate that he uses such a vulgar term?
"In the gay community, we use that term loosely, and I'm not saying everybody uses it or everybody is comfortable with it, but we use that term a lot, it's no problem. So me, not thinking that straight people were going to get to it and make it such a big deal, but we say it all the time."
(also, for those that are going to take offense to vulgarity in a hip-hop song, please just click here.)
Oh you think that he is promoting a "gay minstrel show," as Clay Cane called it?
"I'm just doing me. They could put as many labels on it as they want, but i just did what I wanted you to see...When they played this in Dallas and I would perform the songs, everybody would be so shocked to see a gay rapper that nobody would dance. So I wanted to show people dancing to the songs; now when you play it in the clubs, everybody is cutting up and going crazy, and that is what the song is supposed to be."
Oh you think it's misogynistic?
"It might be, but I was just doing a song...It's a feel-good song. Dance."
What a great answer.
Misogynistic? Maybe. It's hip-hop; if you're going to start barking up that tree, you've got a whole forest of rappers to visit.
But what really helps Red's case as The Next Great Gay Pioneer is his response to the question of whether or not he considers himself an "activist," the unfair label we give to anyone brave enough to admit that who they like to fuck isn't exactly who society would choose...
"I think that Laverne Cox said it best, she's a very influential transgender woman, she said that she's a model of possibility and that's what I want to be. I'm not saying necessarily that I'm going to be an activist, but when I do have people's ear, I'm going to tell them that we need to get tested or tell them we need to do better, because a lot of gay black males don't live to see 30."
Transgender woman role-model namedrop? Check
"I'm not a hero" denial of impact? Check
Sneaking in a line that shows your aware of and care about issues affecting your demographic? Check (this guy is good)
Jason Collins and Michael Sam will go down in history books for their monumental decisions to come out while active in the world of professional sports, but for as long as they're engaged in that world, they're tied to the buttoned-up image that we expect out of all of our professional athletes, gay or straight.
Fly Young Red though, is a different story.
He even admits it: "I know that 'Throw That Boy Pussy' is not the most politically correct term, but it's just a feel-good song, and now we have something of our own, and it's going in a different direction."
As a sports figure, you have to be a politician, but when you're just looking for some boy pussy to be thrown at you, the sky's the limit.