‘If you’re gay, rep your set’
Fat Joe’s thoughts on queerness prompt inquiry into the possibility of a world run by a ‘gay mafia’
Can't Think Straight
There is perhaps nothing more pleasing than the phrase “The hip-hop community is most likely owned by gay.”
Back in November, in an interview with rapper DJ Vlad on VladTV.com, rapper Fat Joe professed his belief that “the hip-hop community is most likely owned by gay,” and that the industry, despite being traditionally rather homophobic, is filled with gay rappers, gay producers, and gays of all professions.
Interestingly, Fat Joe’s views on gays in hip-hop (and I’m only using the term “gay” because that’s what Fat Joe used throughout the interview) are useful in understanding varying approaches to the gay rights movement.
“I’m a fan of ‘Yo, I’m gay, what the fuck?’ 2011, you gotta hide that you’re gay? Be real,” said Fat Joe emphatically. “Like, ‘I’m gay, what the fuck?’ If you gay, you gay. That’s your preference. Fuck it if the people don’t like it.”
Fat Joe envisions a world where people can just be gay and that’s the end of it. Theorists have named this the “assimilationist” point of view. Some queers may not be a fan of this, as it lumps queerness into a space that is markedly heterosexist, and as such forces them into boundaries that may not work for their sexuality. This is considered the liberationist point of view.
I may not agree with Fat Joe’s approach to the gay rights movement, but I have to admit that the phrase “I happen to think there’s a gay mafia in hip-hop” is pleasing on too many levels. Moreover, Fat Joe’s insistence that there is a whole circuit of gays running the hip-hop industry can let us imagine what the world would be like if every major industry was run by a “gay mafia.”
Let’s take the most recent dilemma to face the federal government: the legality of same-sex marriages performed in Canada in countries that don’t recognize gay marriage. The issue was solved rather quickly, forcing my to put my rallying boots back in the closet (no pun intended), but had the government been run by a “gay mafia,” the Prime Minister just would have told the government lawyer to forget about it as he grabbed the cannolli from the front seat of the car. The previous gay mafia governments would have drafted the original marriage and divorce laws with same-sex marriage in mind, so the problem really wouldn’t have been a problem.
Or what about the Westboro Baptist Church? If it were headed by a gay mafia, they’d spend more time protesting heterosexual marriages and straight funerals.
Even the Republican Primaries would be livened up if the gay mafia ran the Republican Party. Santorum would no longer be a neologism, Rick Santorum’s Conservatives Unite Moneybomb would actually be a pun, allowing headlines like “Santorum facilitates CUM surge” to actually exist without irony. Rick Perry would intentionally be trying to imitate Heath Ledger in Brokeback Mountain in his campaign ads, and would be decrying the openness of straight people in the military.
Or for something lighter, imagine what The Simpsons would look like if it were run by a gay mafia. Homer and Ned Flanders may have established their own family, while Marge and Maude established their own. Just think of how heartbreaking Maude’s death would have been then.
Despite the hilarity of the above prospects (or not, depending on if you find my mirror universe funny or not), it points to the potential problems of establishing an alternate universe wherein queer groups establish the norms we follow. The prospect of mirror universe Fred Phelps protesting straight marriages sounds delightful, but if we follow it through to the end, then the suggestion is that maybe, just maybe, heterosexual people would have to be the ones fighting for their rights.
I know this sounds absurd, and it sounds homophobic, as to suggest that straight people can be oppressed by homosexuality is a sign of ignorance to not only the conditions of oppression, but to the conditions of those who are oppressed. But that’s not what I’m suggesting. I’m suggesting that the establishment of an alternative canon, and alternative universe, prescribes its own set of norms and values, which can have their own exclusionary effect.
So maybe Fat Joe is right. It’s 2011. If you’re gay, rep your set, and maybe my alternate universe The Simpsons can exist alongside its original incarnation.