This is a guest post by CYH Volunteer Patricia Louie
Seattle rapper Macklemore’s hit track “Same Love” provides a social commentary for the relatively absent discussion of homosexual love in mainstream hip-hop culture. Macklemore embodies a new brand of hip-hop that is different from that of conventional artists like Eminem. In “Same Love,” Macklemore expresses his views in support of gay marriage and effectively creates a dialogue for listeners to rethink their views on both gay marriage and homophobia – online, in rap music, and in our daily lives.
The five-minute video tells an intense story of struggle with sexual identity, acceptance, love and marriage. The video follows a black man from childhood to his old age unraveling a story about the difficulties of navigating queer sexuality in a heteronormative environment. In the song’s opening lines, Macklemore unpacks stereotypical assumptions that society holds of prescriptions that define “gayness,” explaining his own confusion with his sexual identity as a child because he was “good at drawing” and “keeps his room straight.” By explaining the arbitrary definition associated with the term, Macklemore questions taken for granted stereotypes often associated with “being gay.”
Macklemore’s music provides a counter-narrative to typical messages in hip-hop centered around sex, money, drugs and objectifying women. Instead, he uses his music as a forum to spread awareness about social issues. In “Same Love,” he effectively flips the discourse from the glorification of homophobic language in mainstream hip-hop to discussion about prejudice and discrimination through hip-hop culture.
Questions you can ask yourself while watching this video are: “What do heterosexual people take for granted at school dances? At parties? At family dinners with their partner? How and why are these events an innate privilege of being heterosexual? What are some of the ways we “properly” perform heterosexuality in high school? How is gender represented in this video? (note: female priest, Mom walking son down the aisle)? Do you think hip-hop is an effective medium to educate and create discussions about social issues?
Another selling point of this video is that it creates visibility of minority homosexuality.
While much of the focus of the gay movement is around White homosexuals, this video opens the discourse to include the representation of black sexuality. This is an important step in creating a space for black homosexual men to embrace their identity. These images make black homosexuality visible and create what bell hooks (1992) would call a representational space where black spectators can view themselves and each other as homosexual subjects.
As “Same Love” ends, Macklemore concludes: “No laws are going to change us, we have to change us.” And that is exactly what he does in this uplifting track and accompanying video – telling us that in the end we are all sharing the same love in all its forms, whether gay, straight, or anything else.