Should artists 'come out of the closet'?
The presence of gays in the music industry has been strictly behind the scenes for quite some time. Whether it be hairstylists, make-up artists, vocal coaches, or personal stylists, gays have been out of sight and out of mind. Only recently have we begun to see a change for the better with national movements of acceptance and tolerance trickling into the music scene. Trailblazers (such as Queen, Elton John, and Boy George) practically paved the way for the gay artists of today. They came from a time where being a homosexual was believed to be sinful and wrong, regardless of status or occupation; where certain venues in designated cities were shut down due to anti-gay threats and protests. It was a struggle to overcome personal issues, social, and political issues while constantly being in the eye of the public. Not to mention the amount of fans they may have lost due to their sexual orientation, resulting in lower sales.
On the upside, without them the gay movement would have taken even longer to make its way into the music industry! And other artists (such as Lance Bass and Ricky Martin) may not have had the courage to come out. Back in the day, you could count the number of openly gay artists on one hand. Now it’s almost every day that you hear a certain artist has ‘come out of the closet’. Most recently is the prodigy hailing from the Philippines, Charice Pempengco, who revealed her sexual orientation in an interview on Filipino television. First making her début on the Oprah Winfrey show, she quickly became the ‘it girl’ and landed gigs with her idol and Canadian icon, Celine Dion. She also took part in the popular television program, ‘Glee’. With a more masculine style present in Pempengco’s appearances, speculation began to surface of her sexual orientation. Pempenco was quick to address those rumours stating:
“Yes I am a lesbian.”
More recent news that got both the music industry and the gay community talking was vocalist Frank Ocean. Being the first openly bisexual in the mainstream hip-hop/r&b community, there was a definite stir of controversy and repercussions that followed.
To be gay in the industry is one thing, but gay and hip-hop is a collaboration that has never been talked about. Frank came out in July 2012 on his own terms and little to no negative backlash from his decision was actually reported. He received praise from hip-hop heavy weights such as 50 Cent and Busta Rhymes for his honestly; broadened his fan base, reaching out to the gay community that typically shy’s away from generic rappers. His music is still selling and he remains a growing household name. His coming out can even be said to have sparked this new trend that can be seen in athletes coming out as well, another industry where being gay ‘just didn’t cut it’.
Don’t Kill Me, Cee Jay Gi