Fellow Gay People — Macklemore Is Not Our Enemy, But You Might Be

Macklemore is not harming gay rights
Macklemore is not harming gay rights, Photo: Tom Øverlie, NRK P3

At this year’s Grammy Awards, Queen Latifah took the stage and performed a marriage ceremony for 33 couples, gay and straight, as Macklemore, Ryan Lewis, Mary Lambert and Madonna sang “Same Love.” The powerful event has proven to be controversial, but not for the reasons you might expect.

Gay media outlets have been criticizing the Grammy “stunt,” saying that Macklemore has seized the gay rights movement for his own purposes, that Queen Latifah has no place in the gay community because she’s allegedly “in the closet” and that Madonna had no place being onstage with the group.

As an out gay man, these criticisms greatly upset me.

Times have changed. Gay couples can marry. They can have children. They can be in office. The gay community should be happy about these victories, but I see more and more people cry out against “equality” in favor of what they perceive to be a stifling of their queer culture. People who have spent the majority of their adult lives living in a gay ghetto seem to resent same-sex couples having families and living in “mainstream” America. I understand why: “If we had to suffer, why shouldn’t you?” But that’s not fair.

I ask you: Why should I suffer for being myself? Why should I allow others to marginalize me? Why shouldn’t I have a husband and kids and a white picket fence, if that’s what I want? Weren’t you fighting for our rights? To be resentful of “mainstreaming” is counterproductive to the desire for equality.

As for Macklemore — he wrote a song that is both deeply personal to him (just listen to the lyrics) and very commercial. There’s nothing wrong with that. The Grammy performance and wedding ceremony was watched by millions of people, and there is no doubt that it was the first time many people saw that kind of widespread acceptance for the gay community.

Some suffering kid in the Midwest may have realized there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. Queen Latifah, meanwhile, has no obligation to come out, if she is in fact a lesbian. If we have equal rights, then she has every right to keep her sex life to herself. It’s not homophobic of her to keep certain things private for the sake of her career. It’s her decision. And the only reason I can imagine for the Madonna backlash is that her status as a gay icon is seen as a stereotype and publicity stunt. And it is. But Madonna was and is one of the biggest proponents of gay rights and AIDS awareness. She’s not the enemy. Not by a longshot.

I hope Macklemore knows that his song is beautiful and that he’s made a difference through it. And if that makes me homophobic or not one of “us,” then so be it. I’ll live my life the way I see fit, and if I’m not going to take flack from right-wing Republicans, I’m certainly not going to take it from bitter old queens who are looking for the next enemy.

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