It’s the quiet hip hop scandal that resurfaces every couple of years. Lil Wayne kissing men on the mouth. The first time, it was 2006. He was on a fast ascent to superstardom and I was fresh out of college writing for a hip hop magazine. Despite the hubbub, I didn’t think it was a big deal (there wasn’t any tongue?) and gladly accepted the explanation that they
had seen “The Godfather” were mimicking mob behavior. My male co-workers? Not so much.
Their homophobia was showing. They all but wrote Lil Wayne off for being a closeted homosexual man and ascertained that he and Baby’s relationship included all kinds of lewd, lascivious acts we knew nothing about.
It’s been six years since we passed that photo around our offices. Through the recent posting of a video on the internet of Lil Wayne kissing an unidentified man (who many outlets confused with Stevie J of “Love & Hip Hop”), I’ve come to realize attitudes toward masculinity and homosexuality haven’t changed much at all.
What’s alarming is not whether Lil Wayne is gay or not, but how attached society is to male heterosexual normative behavior. Any activity outside what some deem conventionally masculine and heterosexual is condemned and stigmatized.
The act of kissing, even on the lips, isn’t inherently romantic in nature. But since it’s unconventional for two men to kiss in such a way, their sexuality is called into question.
When athletes hit each other on the butts during sporting events, we don’t make assumptions about their sex lives. Those taps aren’t the same as say, Jay-Z hitting Beyonce’s bum onstage in Brooklyn the other night. When it’s an athletic game, the gesture between men means ‘job well done’ and is interpreted to be asexual. The athletes aren’t questioned about their sexual preference because it’s a cultural norm.
That’s the same reason two women might kiss, passionately, with tongue at a bar and not incite as much as a raised eyebrow. Folks assume they’re doing it for attention or maybe they’re wild and drunk. The idea that they’re closeted lesbians acting out their fantasies in front of an audience is rarely even considered.
The hurry to attack Wayne with derogatory slurs says much more about society’s rigid notions of masculinity than the rapper’s actual sexual preference.