Everyone knows that media is a force to be reckoned with, and in this day and age, it’s everywhere as music, news, television, movies, writing, art—it’s all over the globe, it’s in our pockets, on our buildings, in front of us all the time. A single idea can gain incredible momentum and spread like wildfire in a mere number of minutes. Sometimes, it’s good, funny, or uplifting, but sometimes it can be damaging. It’s not always clear which category media falls into because it’s a very gray spectrum.
Enter Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’s “Same Love.” A song that has been so widely broadcast that all I need to do is say the name and immediately the image of a fur coat-clad blonde rapper with the sides of his head shaved pops into everyone’s mind. A song that is being praised with award after award at the MTV Video Music Awards and the Grammy’s for hip hop and its social forwardness. A song that you could not stop hearing when DOMA and Prop 8 were in the Supreme Court last spring. A song that pisses me the fuck off.
No offense, Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, but neither of you know jack shit about being gay. You thought you were gay when you were eight because you were organized and artistic and were too young to understand sex and sexuality politics. You may have grown up since then but your song barely lets us know that you have. You talk about how we, the LGBT+ community, receive hate from the Internet and the church and how we want a law for marriage but that is old news. It is not just about marriage. We know we want it and we know we want more, like shared health benefits and the ability to adopt children or to have transitional hormones and surgeries covered by healthcare or legislation to protect against violence and discrimination. You are preaching to the goddamn choir except this choir is miles ahead of you, belting verses on topics you’ve never even heard of. Our discrimination is more than what some prejudiced, ignorant nobody behind an icon posts in the comments on YouTube. That person is insignificant but you are not. But, Macklemore, you have said little on the subject beyond your song. You wrote more in a song about sexuality than you have said on the subject publicly outside of the recording studio.
So listen up, Macklemore: I don’t want you to be a figurehead in this movement anymore. You are an ally, not the subject of the movement. Actually, you’re not even an ally at this point, because an ally is someone who supports the movement but doesn’t pretend to understand the struggles that come with being queer, and they certainly don’t appropriate them. It is dangerous for someone who is not constantly experiencing the institutionalized and outright discrimination to be a general in this movement. Macklemore cannot accurately address the issues of everyone in the LGBT+ community, because he does not have a smidgen of knowledge on how it feels to be told that you are not able to love and to marry who you want to because of your gender. To be told that the way that you are expressing the gender you are inside is wrong and fear every day that you could be beaten within an inch of death because of it. To have others assume as a gay man that you have AIDS so you cannot donate blood to save a stranger or a loved one. You are told by ignorant people that if you have AIDS you are disgusting and toxic. These are things that Macklemore will never truly comprehend. Letting Macklemore be a shining face of this movement is like looking to Abraham Lincoln as a beacon of black rights instead of Martin Luther King, Jr. It is dangerous to leave the accomplishments and the strides of minorities up to those that made us voiceless and to those that benefit from our voicelessness. So please let us, the LGBT+ people, take the cake for our accomplishments and the strides our movement has made.
Tori is a butt-kicking, film-making, patriarchy-smashing Film Production major. She's also a seven-year vegetarian who is into Disney movies, pina coladas, and getting caught in the rain.
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