Whatever rapper Lil B intended by titling his album "I'm Gay," he has succeeded in achieving a maximum amount of publicity. Whether anything else will be achieved remains to be seen.
Lil B followed the announcement of his album title with proclamations of his heterosexuality. And it's not the first time he's used this sentence structure: New York's Vulture describes Lil B's work as "characterized by free-flowing raps steeped in braggadocio, misogyny, and absurdity, with titles like "I'm God," "I'm Miley Cyrus," and "Wonton Soup." After being God and Miley Cyrus, what is left but to be gay?
At first, it appeared that Lil B was going to play this announcement off as if he sincerely meant gay as in happy, a tactic last seen in middle school. "I'm very gay, but I love women. I'm not attracted to men in any way. I've never been attracted to a man in my life. But yes I am gay, I'm so happy," he told MTV News. "I'm a gay, heterosexual male."
GLAAD reacted with a certain amount of justifiable caution and admonishment, issuing the following statement: "As a lyricist, Lil B knows that words matter. Slurs have the power to fuel intolerance. We hope that Lil B's album title is not just a gimmick, and is really a sincere attempt to be an ally. He has the platform and the voice. We hope he uses it in a positive way."
He was far more embracing of the tolerance message in his Vulture Q&A:
The message I want to send is that it's time to stop using words of separation, judging people, and losing lives over senseless acts of violence. I just want all people to be treated equally, all creeds. It would just make everybody's time on earth easier. Any of my homophobic fans or any homophobic people, I hope that they can see me do this and it bridges a gap.
Unfortunately, it hasn't bridged the gap with everyone — Lil B says he's been receiving death threats. "People been hitting me up like, 'I'm gonna bash your head in,' 'you f——t,' 'I'm gonna kill you,'" he said last week. (We don't know what a "f——t" is either. Update: Oh. Duh.)
So far, actual gay and lesbian hip hop artists have been left out of this conversation, the few that are open about their sexuality. A 2008 memoir by former MTV executive Terrance Dean claimed that there were several high-profile artists whose gayness is an open secret among people who know them. Artists who have been more forthcoming include Tori Fixx and Deadlee; the latter has said "he knows a couple of performers who lost record deals when they opened up about their sexuality." Lil B's album name may be a stunt with very little actual risk to him, but normalization is its own step.
Lil B Says I'm Gay LP Title Provoking Death Threats, Slurs [MTV]
Lil B on Confronting Hip-Hop's Biggest Taboo: ‘In 100 Years People Will Look Back And Appreciate It' [NYM]
Related: Hidden Gay Life Of Macho Hip Hop Stars [Guardian]
Gay Rapper? Believe It [Star Tribune]