With Lil Nas X being the center of gay artists who’ve “made it,” that’s not always, nor is it normally, the case for some other artists out there. There should be a new responsibility within the music industry to represent all artists. There shouldn’t be favoritism over the other. Better yet, we shouldn’t have to accept the fact gay artists may not make it, not because of their music, but because of their sexual orientation.
Statistics show that “Given that 53% of LGBTQ+ music listeners claim they would be “lost” without music,
the content and actions of those within the industry have a substantial effect on the lives of LGBTQ+ individuals. Music artists have the social responsibility to better represent the LGBTQ+ community through visibility and advocacy.” This means the LGBTQ+ would like to see a better representation of their community in the music industry, as a high percentage of them can’t go without it for many reasons. Some probably listen to music as an outlet, while others might listen to music for therapeutic reasons. Whatever the case may be, it’s essential to turn and move toward inclusivity. But have we seen that recently? No.
Again, minus Lil Nas X and Sam Smith, who have made their mark in the music industry, what about other artists? Especially when it comes to hip-hop.
We will explore the disadvantage of gay artists not getting the same recognition as those who identify as straight. We need to dismantle this way of operating the music industry because whether you like it or not, homosexuality is not a bad thing. Rather, it’s just as normal as any other sexuality.
You might have heard his music on Tiktok. Surprisingly, one of his songs, “Walk,” went viral on all social media platforms. For some reason, though, I believe that he hadn’t identified as gay. He would have had more recognition than he does now. I say that because based on how he chooses to represent himself within the hip-hop industry, that is not acceptable. Within his right, he chooses to wear nails. Within his right, he chooses to wear dresses. And within his right, he chooses to wear a weave. All are acceptable within the parameters of how he wants to live his life, yet for some reason, he still has over 300,000 listeners on Spotify. Why is that? Now, I’m not saying 300,000+ is not a lot. But, were you to compare it to Lil Nas X, who made his mark with The Old Time Road; before he came out as gay, he has 47,000,000 monthly listeners. And I’m also well-aware that both artists are in two different genres of music, but seeing that he had made a breakthrough in the music industry with Walk, shouldn’t he have more? Or is that just me?
It’s concerning. “The answer is that rap is better about homophobia than ever before, but still a long way from great. Many fans have welcomed Makonnen coming out … while refusing to believe a gay cosmetologist could sell drugs . . . They don’t get that this is bigotry. They are protecting something by attacking something else. They are clinging to flawed hegemony because the alternative — twisting out in the wilds all alone — is a fate far more frightening than dancing with the devil they know.”
Changing the Game
For us to see real change, the hip-hop industry needs to change how we conceptualize success. If an artist identifies within the LGBTQ+ community, that shouldn’t deter the industry from giving them a call so that they have a fair shot at the table. There are so many great artists out there who probably are afraid to make music because of their sexual orientation — still! It’s disappointing, and it shouldn’t be like that anymore. For those who want to make music, continue to make music. Don’t let the world control what you’re passionate about. And yes, the world is starting to come around to accepting everyone for who they are, but why does it have to be like that? One: it doesn’t make any sense. And two: an artist is an artist. What they do with the person that they love is their business. We care too much about numbers. Once we start to appreciate the artist for who they are, then we will begin to see real change.
As a result, this will give the rest of the world a better outlook on life. Aside from that, this will also give the LGBTQ+ community more options when it comes to listening to different artists. We need diversity. Without diversity, the system will be stagnant. Eventually, Saucy Santana will have a record label. And from there, hopefully more artists will make music and be less concerned about how the rest of the world will view them. Take a look a Lil Nas X. Did you not see his recent music video? He’s literally changing the game of music right before our eyes.