ZS: I think about this a lot lately, too, because it ties into similar conversations we have about masculinity and a lot of men’s anger at queer men or trans folks, in that we as queer people present a future and a promise that all these constructions you have defined your life by — that you have to be one way to be a man, you have to be one way to be a woman, all these really strict guidelines — aren’t actually real. You can find a lot of freedom and outside of them. 

And I think there’s a lot of resentment and anger there, especially in rap, where they’re saying, “Wait a minute, you don’t have to like rap about X thing? You don’t need to go to jail? You don’t need to do all the stuff to be successful? There are other routes and I’ve been wasting and focusing my life on all this other stuff?” There’s a lot of anger there, similar to how very masculine straight men get mad at very femme men — they’re like, “How dare you be a man and be this way?” 

So I think those rappers have that type of thing going on for them. And there’s also just them doing what they were told to do. Rap is always, and every musical genre, has been all about demeaning and criminalizing queer bodies. Film and television has done the same thing. These people grew up in those cultures and they were told, “You want to be successful like Eminem? Make fun of gay people. Look how famous he got.” And now we’re seeing a backlash and a tide changing. And people like DaBaby are facing the consequences that are going to be here to stay forever. 

They’re caught in a cultural change. And it’s shocking to them, because they’re like, “Wait, in the rap I grew up listening to, that’s what you did and you were seen as a hero. Now I’m being canceled? Now, I can’t book Lollapalooza, when before DMX booked Lollapalooza for saying the same thing.” 

So I think it’s confusing and is a shock to the system. But they’re about to learn. They are learning. And DaBaby — that’s a whole other mess. I wrote about DaBaby and [I got] a lot of death threats from people [where] the consistent theme was, “How dare you try to cancel a good man, a man who’s trying to take care of his family?” And I do think that’s where these folks that are homophobic are coming from. They really haven’t learned yet that this ideology they’ve built their lives around isn’t real and that it’s not a thing that they should be following. So they see us critiquing them, as destroying this other person. But I see it as a calling them in, to be like, “Hey, guess what? That’s over. That’s a new chapter.” And that’s why Lil Nas X so scary to them, because he’s like, “It’s changing. This is not going backwards.”

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