Gay Rapper Tears Down Hip-Hop Stereotype

For Caushun, perhaps dialogue is the best sign of progress in the once traditionally macho worlds of law enforcement, football, baseball and now hip-hop. And that's what the recording artist, backed by Baby Phat Records — operated by Kimora Lee Simmons, the wife of hip-hop impresario Russell Simmons — hopes to generate with his emergence on the scene.

It's easy to think that an openly gay rapper would not have a place in — or would be imperiled in — an industry that has taken pride in its machismo, "hard" gangsta image, and that has seen some of its biggest stars — Eminem perhaps the most noted — attacked for anti-gay lyrics.

But Caushun said he has been received with open arms by both the audience and his contemporaries. He believes the world of hip-hop is ready for him.

"Surprisingly, it [his reception] has been overwhelming with love," he said. "I haven't had any experience where they [fans] have been just hating on me. … There's been a lot of love from the straight community, a lot of love from the gay community."

Becoming Pioneers and Role Models

But how many albums Caushun will sell and how much airplay he will get on radio stations remains to be seen. He has generated attention, however, making appearances on MTV, BET, and being interviewed by Vibe magazine and The New York Times.

Caushun believes his openness will win the respect of listeners and perhaps open the door to other aspiring gay rappers or others within the industry who have stayed in the closet.

"I'm not saying the industry will embrace a whole load of gay rappers coming out on the scene," he said. "But if a few of us can make some noise, then that's history. … If I act like someone else, then it's like I'm letting society make me feel like I'm ashamed of who I am."

And for those who may feel ashamed of their sexual orientation, having a voice within a group or industry they had felt they could never be a part of can prove vital.

"Gay teens are by far the group of teens that commit suicide the most. They don't know how to deal with it." said GOAL New England's Mike Carney. "I am constantly dealing with cases where teens are attacked, beaten up just because they're perceived to be gay. It's not that they're gay, they're perceived to be gay. … We [gays and lesbians] really need to get out there in the front and center and really act as a role model for these kids."

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