56th GRAMMY Awards - Show

Last night’s historic Grammys performance by Macklemore, Ryan Lewis, Mary Lambert, and Madonna of hit open-minded heterosexual anthem “Same Love” once and for all put an end to homophobia in this country and across the world. The consensus among anyone who’s kinda, you know, gay, is that all the gay people in the world can now breathe a collective sigh of relief because a straight man is totally cool with it.

Macklemore, a self-identified straight man (in his song pledging support for gay people, he dedicates the first verse to clarifying that he’s not gay. He’s not gay at all. He loves women so much and wants to have all the sex with them. Super not gay. Gay is great, fine by him, thank you very much, but he’s not gay.), has been held up as a hero for bravely coming forward and admitting that he doesn’t mind gay people. His courageous suggestion that non-heterosexual love is equal, or “same,” as heterosexual love has gotten him legions of fans. Coupled with his equally courageous love for thrifting, Macklemore is pretty much the most progressive guy around. And yesterday evening’s Grammy performance marked the pinnacle of his heroism and his ascension onto Mount Olympus, where he will be worshipped like a Greek God (talk about a gay bunch, am I right?).

Along with sidekick Ryan Lewis and actual homosexual Mary Lambert (who at one point was completely obscured by Macklemore flailing his body wildly with accepting passion, truly showing how much he cares about gay people), Macklemore performed “Same Love” to an adoring crowd. Then shit got REAL, because Queen Latifah came on stage and performed a wedding ceremony for 33 couples of different orientations. In announcing that this mass wedding would take place, there was careful mention of the multiple orientations and races of the betrothed, so note to people of color: Macklemore has also decided that you are okay, too.

While there is a tradition of homosexual musicians making the case for equality (and in hip hop specifically–Racialicious pointed to the genre of Homo Hop in an article when Macklemore first showed up), none of that mattered until a blonde, doe-eyed heterosexual with a keen eye towards hip hop entered the game. Gay people can talk until they’re blue in the face about how they’re people who deserve rights or whatever, but that’s all useless compared to straight dude talking. Macklemore’s a normal guy we can all relate to. If he’s fine with gays, then gays are fine by me.

Macklemore never uses the broader word “queer” or addresses anyone outside of what seems like a fairly niche group, so unfortunately I can’t deliver any good news if you don’t fit neatly into the “gay” category. A lady loving another lady? I can get my head around that because Macklemore helped me. But how does he feel about someone whose gender doesn’t match their sex? Or someone who doesn’t identify as gay or lesbian, but something using words he doesn’t know? I don’t know, because he doesn’t know, and therefore, I don’t know how I feel. I’m waiting for him to tell me.

56th GRAMMY Awards - Show

You could say Macklemore’s whole career has been leading up to this very point. What started as a little ditty getting some radio play about a straight guy who realized that gay people needed his blessing turned into a full on cathedral-esque experience in which Macklemore is the Messiah here to save us all. Fittingly, he walked out in front of his band to raise his hand up and accept the standing ovation of adoring applause and raised arms. Church was fully underway, and everyone was standing up and worshipping the true face of the the gay struggle: the guy who’s paying his bills off of it, and experiencing none of it.

56th GRAMMY Awards - Show

Photo: Getty Images

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    • Candace

      YES to everything about this article.

    • OhOk

      So we need to teach men not to rape but we don’t need heterosexuals to end homophobia. Got it.

      Maybe snark at America for not paying attention to homohop and not the guys trying to make gay marriage alliance/acceptance cool. I also wish he’d do more for all LGBTQI issues, but his song is about denying homosexual people a very specific fundamental (and constitutional, for that matter) right.

      • ted3553

        I think it’s a case do damned if you do, damned if you don’t. Yeah, he’s said he’s straight. So what. It’s seems like it’s always the first question asked of people when they advocate anyway. At least he’s talking about it and putting a voice out there.

      • chisai

        This isn’t really about being mad at Macklemore for saying he’s not gay. It’s about taking on the real issue that people like him – straight, white males – when they come out and say “gay is OK!” they get treated like heroes. Do we really want to be hero-worshipping someone for doing what everyone should be doing in the first place? Doesn’t it take a lot of the attention off of the people who are actually being oppressed? I think that’s really all this article is saying. That, plus the fact that it’s not just “straight” and “gay,” there are a lot of other types of orientations that get left out of cultural conversations about equality.

        Also, OhOK, I have no idea why you are comparing this to teaching men not to rape. How is that relevant here?

      • OhOk

        To end discrimination against a minority, which rape culture is an example of, you need the majority to cooperate. Abolitionists needed to have white faces among them, suffragettes needed to convince male politicians, etc. That’s why he announces his heterosexuality: you don’t need to need the rights for yourself to fight for human rights. Mocking Macklemore as a self-appointed demi-god rather than the culture propping him up at the expense of gay voices only serves to make other potential allies hesitate before speaking out.

      • chisai

        I think I get what you’re saying, that it was beside the point to put so much emphasis on him as a “Jesus” figure rather than on the fact that he’s being “propped up at the expense of gay voices.” Right? If so, I agree. I did think this piece was a bit over the top.

      • OkOk

        Yes, that. She’s absolutely right that he gets so much undeserved attention for an unoriginal message, but it’s the system, not his song, that’s the problem. The message needs to be, “we clearly haven’t come as far as we might like to think we have when pop culture anoints a heterosexual white male as the spokesman for gay rights, even though he’s only talking about gay marriage and no other LGBTQI issues.”

      • ted3553

        I get where you’re coming from with the whole hero worship for just doing what people should anyway. I don’t think Macklemore is a hero but I do have to give him kudos for talking about it and making it a discussion point for people in ways like we’re doing right now. Better than him rapping and calling people fags and then turning around and saying he has nothing against them-Eminem, I’m looking at you here.

      • chisai

        You’re right, it’s definitely something. I just hate to see “damned if I do, damned if I don’t,” because really it’s “damned if I do it wrong, without considering what is really needed from me or how I might inadvertently make things worse…”

      • Benwhoski

        That’s mostly how I interpreted this piece in the first place, as not so much snark against the song, but snark against the cultural attitude that somehow a straight man speaking out for gay rights is more noteworthy than all of the LGBTQ folks who have been speaking out on it for decades.

        As somewhat related example, there are a couple of male SF writers who have gotten a lot of attention in the past couple of years for speaking out against various forms of sexism. They and many feminists were shocked to find out in discussions that when someone would ask “Who would be good to talk to about gender discrimination issues in SF and publishing?” people would immediately answer with their names and not the many women in the industry who had been writing about the subject for much longer and with a more first-hand perspective on it.

        It’s a double-edged sword. Every cause needs allies, and to a degree it makes sense that the supportive statements made by those without an immediate, personal stake in the issue carry a certain weight (after all, we tend to value what we perceive as a more “objective” viewpoint), but that doesn’t change that the fact that a straight man speaking in support of gay rights gets more attention than a LGBTQ individual making the same case is a perfect snapshot of the problem. It’s frustrating and rather insulting.

      • OhOk

        Absolutely. But if society respected out voices as women or as people of color speaking about racism or LGBTQI demands for equality…well, we wouldn’t be fighting for equality in the first place. We’d be equal. It’s unfair, but so is inequality. We need to focus on bringing pro-rights people together and then, in my mystical imaginary utopia of equality, everyone will have a voice and no one will need someone else to speak for or alongside them.

        Our interpretations of this piece are different because the first four paragraphs are dripping with sarcasm about Macklemore’s position and seem to question whether he has any right to voice his opinion or try to explain an issue that directly affects his family (the uncles another poster mentioned) simply because he’s not gay. There are a lot of interesting things to say about the role of allies, which is a word that I don’t think appears anywhere in her piece, and power dynamics within rights movements between the minority and allies, but there’s none of that here.

        I also really take issue with that last sentence. We are all affected when we live in a society and under a legal regime that limits, abuses, or refuses to recognize equal human rights for all. I presume that’s why the heterosexual author cares about this issue in the first place.

    • SheilaW

      So, allies have no spot in marriage equality advocacy?

      • Julia Sonenshein

        Sure they do! This isn’t it.

      • Victoria McNally

        That’s not what anyone’s saying at all. Allies are important, but when our voices become more prevalent and more important than the people who are actually experiencing oppression and discrimination, that’s a huge problem.

      • Julia Sonenshein

        Perfectly said.

      • Susie

        If that’s all you were trying to get across, why the hell did you include the whole argument about Macklemore being arrogant in thinking that he’s going to “solve homophobia?” Why did you feel the need to include snarky attacks on him and his motivations, as if he only spoke out because he arrogantly saw himself as a savior? What was the point in saying that Macklemore sucks when really what you were going for was a criticism of the response he caused?

      • Matt

        I think this article was very judgmental and so filled with sarcasm it really wasn’t worth the bandwidth I used to read it.

        I am not a fan of Macklemore per say, but the reality is he isn’t a hero nor does he think he is a hero. He is putting an issue on the world stage that is still ridiculously fasted in a negative light and condemned. You want to be pissed at someone? Be pissed at the people propping him up or the media for running with that distracting garbage. It’s just more division.

        You should be writing about how his effort to bring equality to the world stage was admirable, but don’t get distracted by propping up someone who is just speaking out for what he believes in.

    • cm

      Ehhhhh, two of his uncles are gay. So I wouldn’t say “experiencing none of it,” though he certainly isn’t experiencing all of it by any means. He’s actually my 2nd cousin, so I can vouch for this – even met the assorted uncle/uncle pairings at a family birthday in the late 90′s. Haven’t seen him since then but can vouch he’s a stand up guy through the family grapevine. Not that anyone has to believe me, but meh.

    • Giselle

      How dare a straight man advocate for gay rights? The nerve!!!

      • Julia Sonenshein

        I know can you believe it?

    • Cee

      Well, given that most “straight” white men keep wanting to pass laws to deny me rights, and that most lgbtq loved artists use us as their sassy best friend, Im okay with him and his song.
      Hes not gay, but seems to understand some of the plight. Not only that, he probably fostered some dialogue. Hes an ally, without the help of allies, we probably wouldnt progress in some places.
      Also, just like you dont think he speaks for all the lgbtq community, I dont feel you do either. Heck, I dont either. A lot of lgbtq people had different opinions about him and theyre all valid.
      Lastly, I can’t help but feel that this meanness comes because people feel someon else was robbed. If he was, maybe its time to question who nominates and who votes, NOT tear another person down. Its petty, lazy and goes after the wrong person. After all, he didn’t award himself.

      (That said, I still love you and think youre awesome)

      • Julia Sonenshein

        I think the argument that we need allies is very valid! I just wish that being an ally didn’t mean getting propped up as a hero type, overshadowing the actual community you aim to support. I certainly don’t speak for any community other than myself!

        I didn’t watch the awards themselves because I don’t have cable, but I’m going to look up the awards he won and who he beat. I know he beat Kendrick Lamar for something (from doing the Insta post), but I need to do more research about that facet.

      • Julia Sonenshein

        Also, I love you and think you’re totally awesome, too!

    • Kaitlin Reilly

      I didn’t see the Grammys so I can’t comment on the specific things that happened, but I do have to give Macklemore credit for at least taking a stand. He might be receiving a lot (maybe too much?) credit for taking a stand for LGBTQ rights, but consider the alternatives. Hip hop (and not JUST hip hop) can be extremely demeaning to the LGBTQ community — it’s cool in my book if someone wants to speak up. Yeah, he’s not facing the oppression himself, and I agree with the first verse in “Same Love” being a little weird, but maybe he will spark a larger conversation.
      I saw a bunch of homophobic tweets re: Macklemore at the Grammys, and that just shows me that we do need more people talking about the issue, even at the most basic level. It’d be awesome if members of the LGBTQ community in the music industry got as much credit/recognition, and hopefully one day they will.

    • Carinn Jade

      I’m pretty sure this is the most hysterical thing I’ve read today but until Macklemore weighs in, I’ll have to reserve final judgment.

    • APick

      i actually had to stop reading this shit hole of an article for the sheer fact of the pure bitterness of the author. holy hell woman, get laid or something. I cant determine what your main issue is with Macklemore, nor can I fathom any reason for it. His song is beautiful, his performance, the same, and the wedding ceremony was moving. and yes it was progressive. look at all of the comments on less progressive sites if your unsure… still “traditional marriage” supporters hating and whining about something that does not affect. he is garnishing support for the LGBT community regardless of the words in his song…. what the hell are you doing?

      • Samantha Escobar

        Why is “get laid” always the go-to insult when people don’t like what women say?

      • OhOk

        If it’s a man, because misogyny. If it’s a woman, because she thinks that a euphoric, relaxing release may be a cure for this article, which is unnecessarily pissy and snarky about a guy who’s trying to mainstream gay marriage.

        Should’ve just gone with “a good night’s sleep” and tried to get a substantive response to your point, APick. Not that you actually would.

      • witness

        repent and receive Jesus before its to late

    • Bethany Ramos

      Julia, you are killing meeeee. Progressive love of thrifting? Lol! You just changed my life.

    • Jayjay

      I think I get the point that the article is trying to make, that it’s unfair to give more credit to a straight guy arguing for lgbtq rights than the various members of that community. However I’m finding it difficult to tell if the article is taking a swipe at the media reporing this event and the people giving him the credit or at Macklemore himself, ’cause if it’s at him I think it’s uncalled for.

    • Emma

      Can’t you just be thankful that he’s not a homophobic prick? Despite the negativity this was a big step forward. Sometimes people need to test the waters with something they do not understand before completely jumping in. There are many people in this country who barely understand the term “queer” or what it means for the community. Songs and actions like this are ways to reach people who normally close their minds against anything different or “wrong.”

      I’m not saying I always agree with Macklemore, and I still respect you and your work, but this is what change in America looks like. Embrace it, make it better, enjoy the ride.

    • Susie

      Are you shitting me, Gloss? Who are you to say that M. “realized that gay people needed his blessing?” Straight allies are damned if they do and damned if they don’t then? Sure, hero worship is annoying. But alienating straight allies is NOT OKAY. I’ve adored the Gloss up to this point, and I’m now thoroughly disappointed in it. Way to start going the way of Jezebel, you reactionary assholes.

      Thanks a lot for throwing my straight outspoken allies under the bus,

      A bisexual chick

      • Susie

        I’d also like to add that a huge reason the song blew up so fast and he’s receiving so much praise is because he’s a rapper. The advocacy he expresses wouldn’t be as surprising from a rock or pop artist. Take into account the fact that hip-hop and rap music scenes are known for their homophobic, machismo climate. He’s done nothing but positive things. How people choose to react, be it with hero worship or with finally taking LGBTQI rights seriously because a straight white cis dude finally expressed support for it, is out of his hands. He can’t control people’s reasons for rethinking their bigotry, so criticize the thought process of listeners — not him.

      • Krissy Aldrich

        I personally don’t care why someone rethinks their bigotry, if his song has changed minds, even better

    • Krissy Aldrich

      Yeah as an LGBT person I have to say boo! to this article.

      What we have is a straight person saying openly and publicly that gay people deserve equal rights and that that is personally important to him. He talks about being unsure of his sexuality as a young person and he mentions his gay uncles who he would like to be able to get married one day (not sure if their state has reformed laws yet or not but his goal is closer now than it ever has been). This song is pretty groundbreaking in a lot of ways, not only because it broke into the mainstream consciousness but because of the previously mentioned reasons. I don’t view him as an outsider pushing himself on our community, I view him as someone who has likely been an ally for some time, maybe not as vocal of an ally as he is now but if we are to take him at his word he seems to have had these beliefs for some time.