By Sameera Khurana:
For those of you who watched MTV Video Music Awards 2013, you will downright agree that it wasn’t just about Miley Cyrus, the so-called ‘Queen of Twerking’. That night, celebrated an indispensable achievement in the hip-hop culture. In one of the ‘poignant’ moments of the evening, Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’ gay rights anthem— ‘Same Love’ won the award for the “Best Video with a Social Message”.
Before proceeding, it is of utmost importance to establish this fact: Macklemore got engaged to his girlfriend of seven years in the beginning of this year.
As I am writing this article, the video has probably crossed over 7,39,56,052 views on YouTube. But why? Why is this song so exceptional that it is consuming this space? The fourth single released by the rapper and producer Ryan Lewis from their album, The Heist, talks about legalizing same-sex marriage and was recorded during the campaign for Washington Referendum 74, which upon approval in 2012, legalized same-sex marriages in Washington.
“When I was in the third grade I thought that I was gay,
‘Cause I could draw, my uncle was, and I kept my room straight.”
The music video blinds you with the bright light of a hospital lamp, and then immediately jumps to images of children playing happily—climbing trees, riding their bikes, gazing at the creek. The camera shifts to an adorable little girl receiving flowers from her shy lover. As the story builds up, you’re made uncomfortable by a young boy who is extremely tense in his surroundings, almost like an outsider. Suddenly, the scene changes to the boy kissing another boy, consciously. And that’s when you understand his internal conflict. He ‘comes out of the closet’ and announces his sexual orientation. Extremely angry, the parents leave the dinner table. However, what proceeds is almost magical. The couple is having the time of their life and ceremoniously gets married (not in a church, obviously). And the video closes with the hospital scene, our main guy lying on the bed and his husband holding his hand, with pure tenderness and care.
“If I was gay, I would think hip-hop hates me
Have you read the YouTube comments lately?
“Man, that’s gay” gets dropped on the daily
We become so numb to what we’re saying.”
So, why is this song so incredible again? Misogyny and homophobia are the two acceptable means of oppression in hip hop culture. It is 2013! Don’t you think there needs to be some accountability? As a society, we are evolving, and hip-hop has always been a representation of what’s going on in the world right now. Not only did the rapper condemn homophobia in mainstream hip-hop, society and mass media but he also managed to produce an anthem for the LGBT community when others of his kind are busy making songs that reek of misogyny and homophobia.
“A word rooted in hate, yet our genre still ignores it
Gay is synonymous with the lesser.”
A scathing critique of homophobia and hetero-normativity, Macklemore’s rap conveys that hate is behind denying gay marriage. This is the same hate that was behind the oppression of religion and races; we are denying people the right to marry by calling them ‘lesser’. While accepting the award, the rapper said that “Gay rights are human rights, there is no separation.” This song has been called as socially relevant, since equality is at the forefront of what’s going on in politics right now. Even today, in India, same-sex marriage isn’t legal.
“And a certificate on paper isn’t gonna solve it all
But it’s a damn good place to start
No law is gonna change us
We have to change us.”
Countless number of people from the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender community face discrimination on a daily basis. Macklemore isn’t gay, but it takes tremendous courage to openly support such a controversial topic and wreck havoc in the hip-hop world. The song begins with Macklemore’s candid reflection on his third grade fear of being gay, because of a ‘buncha stereotypes all in my head’ at such a young age, and moves to challenging religious hypocrisy, gay conversion therapy, mainstream hip hop, bullying in schools…and the list goes on and on. I hope that we, the youth, are able to stop discrimination on the ground of gender in terms of love.
Maybe there’s more than one way to express that civilization, but as of now, we might need music videos.