15 Times Hip-Hop Stood Up to Fight Homophobia

The movement for change is growing.

By Claire Downs

It took a real long time, but the hip-hop community is standing up and becoming a real vocal force for the LGBT community. The genre has long been criticized for lyrics with slurs and harsh public statements discriminating against gay people for decades. Today, there’s a growing movement of rappers who have not only spoken out in favor of equal rights for same sex couples, but they have even denounced previous homophobic lyrics in the past. Some have also apologized for their own ignorance on the issue. The problems we face as a national on the topic are still a long way from being corrected, but we must acknowledge the hip-hop stars who’ve gotten on board to fight the good fight.

  • 1 Vic Mensa
    On the heels of the tragedy in Orlando Vic Mensa released the socially aware song called “Free Love” which featured artists from the LGBT community. He confessed he could no longer stay silent in the fight for equal rights.

  • 2 Frank Ocean
    Following the events in Orlando, the “Thinkin’ Bout You” singer was inspired to write a chilling Tumblr post based on his personal experience in the Gay community. “Many hate us and wish we didn’t exist,” Frank Ocean writes. “Many are annoyed by our wanting to be married like everyone else or use the correct restroom like everyone else. Many don’t see anything wrong with passing down the same old values that send thousands of kids into suicidal depression each year. So we say pride and we express love for who and what we are. Because who else will in earnest?”

  • 3 A$AP Rocky
    A$AP Rocky is proud defender of the LGBTQ community. The Harlem rapper addressed the ignorance of homophobia in hip hop in a 2013 feature story with Interview Magazine, saying, “One big issue in hip-hop is the gay thing. It’s 2013, and it’s a shame that, to this day, that topic still gets people all excited. It’s crazy. And it makes me upset that this topic even matters when it comes to hip-hop, because it makes it seem like everybody in hip-hop is small-minded or stupid—and that’s not the case.”

  • 4 Jay Z
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    During the 2012 election, Hova appeared on CNN to promote his Made in America music festival. During the interview, Jay was asked his opinion on gay marriage after Obama had publicly supported it. “I’ve always thought of it as something that was still holding the country back. What people do in their own homes is their business and you can choose to love whoever you love.”

  • 5 Kanye West
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    During a MTV interview back in 2007, Yeezy took on rappers who use the f-word and urged them to stop perpetuating homophobia in their music. He described a moment when his cousin changed his outlook on the LGBTQ community.

  • 6 Kendrick Lamar
    Compton’s finest promoted gay rights during a 2012 interview with DJ Drama, “I don’t give a f—” what people want to do. You got your own beliefs and your own morals. I can’t help the way you was born if you was gay. And I can’t change that, so do what you gotta do to be happy.”

  • 7 Macklemore
    One of the most famous instances of LGBTQ support from the hip hop community is Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’ tear-jerker, “Same Love.” The lyrics directly address the offensive slurs we hear all too often in the music. “If I was gay, I would think hip-hop hates me/ Have you read the YouTube comments lately?/‘Man, that’s gay’ gets dropped on the daily/ Call each other f*****s behind the keys of a message board/ A word rooted in hate, yet our genre still ignores it.”

  • 8 Nicki Minaj
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    Back in 2010, several suicides by young LGBTQ teens had reached national attention. In an interview with MTV News, Nicki reached out to her gay fans, saying “I would encourage my gay fans to be fighters and to be brave. People face difficulties, no matter who you are. I faced difficulties with a lot of things. I face opposition every day, but I didn’t kill myself and now, thank God, I’m here. So I want my life to be a testimony to my fans and my gay fans.”

  • 9 Common
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    After catching heat for anti-gay views early in his career, Common changed his ways for the better. He confronted homophobia on his 2002 song “Between Me, You & Liberation,” which describes the struggle of a good friend who came out to him. “His parents found out and hated him for it/ How could I judge him? Had to accept him if I truly loved him/ No longer he said had he hated himself/ Through sexuality he liberated himself between me and you.”

  • 10 T-Pain
    T-Pain was one of the many vocal supporters of Frank Ocean when the singer revealed his sexuality in 2012. In an interview with Vlad TV, Pain expressed disappointment at certain hip-hop stars who mocked Ocean’s coming out.

  • 11 Kid Cudi
    Following the events in Orlando, Kid Cudi tweeted a message of support to the victims, sending his prayers. The tragedy prompted Cudi to make a vow to change the hip hop community’s homophobic ways.

  • 12 Lil’ Kim
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    Lil’ Kim is a goddess within LGBTQ circles. She has performed at many pride events throughout her career and continues to be ardent supporter in the fight for gay rights.

  • 13 The Beastie Boys
    In 1999 the iconic hip hop trio wrote an open letter to Time Out New York apologizing for their past homophobic lyrics. “I would like to … formally apologize to the entire gay and lesbian community for the sh—y and ignorant things we said on our first record, 1986’s Licensed to Ill,” Ad-Rock (born Adam Horovitz) wrote in the Dec. 16 issue of the magazine. “There are no excuses. But time has healed our stupidity. … We hope that you’ll accept this long overdue apology.”

  • 14 DMC
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    The rap legend joined the 2011 anti-homophobia movement, NoH8, to help bring an end to the issue in hip-hop.

  • 15 Lil B
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    The Based God is all about love. He released an album in 2011 titled, I’m Gay, to prove the point that hip-hop and love should have no boundaries.

Check out this throwback clip of DMC talking about the ignorance of homophobia in hip hop with VH1.