Yesterday marked a historical moment in the public fight for LGBT equality as legendary hip-hop artist Jay-Z endorsed President Barack Obama’s same-sex marriage support while interviewed by CNN. The news quickly became a trending topic throughout online media as an entertainer from a seemingly homophobic field publicly saying that approving same-sex marriages is “the right thing to do.”
Let us be honest. Most of us were shocked, in a good way of course, to hear about Jay-Z’s endorsement. He is a hip-hop artist in an industry where homophobia dominated the genre for decades with very little room to oppose it. The artists who support LGBT rights, or are gay/lesbian themselves, had to remain silent as slurs such as “faggot” and “no homo” dominated club bangers and historic moments in hip-hop. Even the biggest names in the game such as LL Cool J, Jay-Z and Nas have kept silent about the LGBT community, including those who are their fans, while the likes of The Game, Eminem and T.I. showed backhanded supported of the community while being associated as homophobes. Therefore, the support of Jay-Z, who is regarded as the greatest and most successful hip-hop artist of all time by many fans and critics, seemingly overshadowed the years of homophobia and the half-assed support by other artists overnight.
Last week, the LGBT community and media viewed President Obama’s public support of same-sex marriage as a pivotal point in fight against state laws that continue to ban gay marriages and civil unions. Many assumed that Obama’s support may affect the change of public opinion, in particular those who have opposed same-sex unions.
While the support of a sitting U.S. President speaks volumes, how does it really affect the average American? The views of Obama are generally shared by liberal modern people between ages 25-50 who are already seemingly supportive of same-sex unions. Yet, Jay-Z, whose influence dominate the seemingly homophobic hip-hop generations and inner-city Black communities, can make a larger impact on those communities he has influence over with his endorsement. Thus, Mr. Carter’s endorsement is not only powerful because he is in hip-hop. His support can influence millions of people who currently disapprove of LGBT equality.