Pop music and the gay community have a long, storied relationship. In the past few decades, some of the most prominent supporters of the LGBT community have been pop stars. Along with their support come accusations of the stars having ulterior motives, whether related to image or commercial appeal.
Now, I’m not one to indulge in such theories normally. Among the current crop of pop stars, I believe artists like Ke$ha and Katy Perry are well intentioned with their messages to the LGBT community. The most notable pop star supporter of our community, Lady Gaga, is an out and proud bisexual, so I believe her support is wholly heartfelt.
There is one artist, though, who likes to claim she support the LGBT community who’s gone over the line too many times for my liking. That star? Nicki Minaj.
Controversy surrounding Nicki’s connection to the LGBT community is nothing new. Back in 2010, as her popularity was starting to explode, Nicki made a series of conflicting statements that both confirmed and denied her bisexuality. Now, whether or not Nicki’s bi is something only she ultimately knows, but playing both sides of the fence on the issue fails to properly handle what is ultimately a non-issue. I’ll take her word, though, that she’s not bi.
Of course, just because Nicki’s straight doesn’t mean she can’t be an ally, and the rapper has made efforts to support her gay fanbase. She’s even identified Roman Zolanski, the most…masculine of Minaj’s alter egos, as gay.
This brings me to where my own problem with Nicki comes into play. Undoubtedly, Nicki Minaj is one of the biggest rappers in the industry these days. She has the power to influence the industry not only based on her popularity, but her status as the de facto leading female hip-hop artist in the music industry.
For all of the claims she makes to support the gay community, she could be a force to combat the rampant homophobia present in the rap community. Instead, on record she seems to at least tolerate some of the more prominent examples of rappers who are, at best, not gay friendly.
Take “Roman’s Revenge,” off of her Pink Friday album. The song features Eminem making use of the terms “faggot” and “no homo.” Not exactly what one would expect to hear on an album from someone who claims to support the LGBT community, even if the verse didn’t come from Minaj directly.
Potentially more problematic is a collaboration on her recent release, Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded. Near the end of the album is a duet with Beenie Man, who’s been called out in the past for homophobic lyrics, including some that called for the murder of gays.
These collaborations don’t make Minaj a hypocrite, at least not directly. Still, her work with artists who have been homophobic on record makes me uneasy. As much as I want to believe that Minaj truly does support the gay community, I have to question how far that loyalty goes. Of course, it’s not going to be completely easy to find fellow rappers in the mainstream rap community who haven’t said something at least latently homophobic on record. That doesn’t excuse Minaj, though. If she really wants to say she supports us, she should show it on record.