As individuals, we all have our own personal values, beliefs and preferences. Homosexuality is a major trending issue in pop culture, especially when it involves a person of prestige such as celebrities, athletes and musicians. Due to this the trend is becoming easier to accept and those individuals are beginning to take their chance in choosing not to continue to live an uncomfortable life.
In 2012, musician Frank Ocean, an R&B artist, came out in a letter describing his relationship with a man. Ocean even went as far as writing a song based upon the relationship called, “Thinking Bout You”, on his latest album Orange. Ocean then did an interview with GQ and stated:
“I’m not a centerfold. I’m not trying to sell you sex. People should pay attention to that in the letter: I didn’t need to label it for it to have impact. Because people realize everything that I say is so relatable, because when you’re talking about romantic love, both sides in all scenarios feel the same s**t.”
His courage, bravery and self-respect set the stage for other homosexuals in his position. Soon after, NFL player Michael Sam, publicly announced his sexuality in February 2014, after his college career. Sam did not know what his future could hold after doing so, but he took a gamble. Later that year he was selected in the 2014 NFL draft, and became the first publicly gay player in the league. Becoming the NFL’s first active player who was publicly out.
Television is also playing a major role in this movement. The new hit sitcom Empire, features a son who struggles with his sexuality out of fear of his father. There was an episode that showed his father catching him in a feminine act and physically put his son in a trash can outside of the house. This was a perfect example of how the homosexual “disease” is perceived in pop culture. It is viewed as an embarrassment or discomforting act to others.
Though that didn’t stop Jamal. As he got older, he pursued his singing career, sung a song publicly in which he came out as a homosexual via the lyrics written. The media buzzed immediately, due to Jamal carrying the legendary family name, finding his courage quite amusing and unexpected. Although most would think it would have damaged his career, it did not. He actually got major publicity and even a record deal with Columbia records. Opening new doors and possibilities of working with established artists he could ever only dream of.
Then there are other rap artists such as Young Thug and Lil Wayne who are not homosexuals, but seem to fit the description of “gender bending”. These two heterosexual men, who portray themselves to be the “thuggish” type, have been caught in some suspicious acts. Young Thug for example, did a radio interview where he made a reference to sexual activities while away in prison. This left open ended questions circling the media and headlines as to whether or not this was his way of coming out. Yet and all, his fans still idolize him as an artist and can overcome the possibilities of him being a homosexual, due to his fame, fortune and talent.
In 2009 there was controversy over rapper Lil Wayne and his manager/producer Birdman who publicly kissed on BET’s 106&Park music video TV show. Neither one of them are gay, but feel it was ok because they have worked together for so long, and labels their relationship as a father and son type. In my opinion, this scenario is very contradicting in considering neither one of them are homosexuals, but dissed other artists in the past for their sexuality and refused to make music with them, take R&B singer Frank Ocean for example.
Jack Lue, arthor of Understanding Media and Culture: An Introduction to Mass Communication, would label these influentials as “tastemakers” and states:
Popular culture is the media, products, and attitudes considered to be part of the mainstream of a given culture and the everyday life of common people. It is often distinct from more formal conceptions of culture that take into account moral, social, religious beliefs and values. It is also distinct from what some consider elite or high culture. Historically, popular culture has been closely associated with mass media that introduce and encourage the adoption of certain trends. We can see these media as “tastemakers”-people or institutions that shape the way others think, eat, listen, drink dress and more. Tastemakers can have huge influence. Tastemakers can help keep culture vital by introducing the public to new ideas, music, programs, or products.
With that being said, It is evident that the topic of homosexuality has always been present, just kept unspoken, until recent years. The coming out of NFL Michael Sam, R&B singer Frank Ocean and now FOXs new hit sitcom Empire has shown that homosexuality is just a preference among certain individuals. These references has educated pop culture, opening many eyes to the fact of homosexuality and how it does not change a persons drive, ambition nor talent. The only trait that makes them different from heterosexuals is their sexual preference. Still being the people many has grown to idolize and aspire to be.