Ne-Yo, singer of the fourth-wave feminist anthem “Miss Independent,” disappointed many over the weekend when his transphobic rant on the Gloria Velez for VladTV show went semi-viral. Speaking about parenting today, Ne-Yo reminisced about how he’d “personally come from an era where a man was a man and a woman was a woman,” and insisted, “There was two genders, and that’s just how I rocked.” He added, “You could identify as a goldfish if you feel like, I don’t care. That ain’t my business. It becomes my business when you try to make me play the game with you.”
In the wake of substantial online backlash—as many questioned how the singer could dish his conservative takes on family values while having seven kids with multiple women—the singer shared a lengthy apology note by Sunday night. “I’ve always been an advocate for love and inclusivity in the LGBTQI+ community, so I understand how my comments could’ve been interpreted as insensitive and offensive,” Ne-Yo wrote. At this point, of course, I feel obligated to note than an apology is halved in value once you shift the blame onto others for merely “interpreting” your actions as hurtful.
He continued, “Gender identity is nuanced and I can honestly admit that I plan to better educate myself on the topic, so I can approach future conversations with more empathy. At the end of the day, I lead with love and support everyone’s freedom of expression and pursuit of happiness.”
An apology is better than nothing, but the rant was just incredibly stupid to begin with. Elsewhere in his interview with Velez, Ne-Yo had claimed parents who support queer and trans kids have “forgotten what the role of a parent is,” and equated kids asking their gender identities to be respected with children begging for more candy. “When did it become a good idea to let a 5-year-old, let a 6-year-old, let a 12-year-old make a life-changing decision for themself? When did that happen? I don’t understand,” Ne-Yo said.
His comments weren’t just offensive but could be genuinely dangerous and inflammatory at a time of surging political attacks and threats of violence targeting queer and trans people. As a parent of young children, he really should’ve known better.