MIDWAY : Secretly gay
Terrance Dean, a former executive at MTV, has penned a memoir of his life and times in the hip hop industry as a gay man.
It is an explosive expose of a thriving gay subculture in an aggressively male business, where anti-gay lyrics and public homophobia are common.
Perhaps not surprisingly, many in the industry are nervous about the book’s publication, fearing that it will expose some of the top black names in music and Hollywood as secretly gay. But Dean said that his memoir was not intended as a way of outing famous people. “I was never tempted to name any names. The book is not about outing people. I wrote it so that people realise the industry has a gay subculture,” he said.That gay hip hop subculture seems to be thriving. Dean’s book describes a world where many industry executives and some artists are leading secret gay lives, which are often obvious to everyone but rarely talked about. And, despite using some false names, the book contains enough information so that it will undoubtedly spark off a frenzy of speculation.
For example, Dean describes ‘Lola’, a singer who is a lesbian and had to keep her sexuality secret. And ‘Gus’, a male rap artist who appeared on television
in typical ‘gangsta’ style yet hid a secret gay life. Then there are the other hints of big-name celebrities close to the hip hop business who are also gay. They include ‘Lucas’, a married A-list movie star, and ‘Kareem’, a leading sitcom actor.Dean, however, hopes that hip hop will soon put its homophobia behind it. He says the music changed dramatically from hip hop’s roots in nightclubs and parties to a celebration of urban violence. Dean’s book is a searing description of a tough childhood on the streets of Detroit, ironically also the home town of Eminem.
Dean suffered a childhood sexual assault from a male babysitter and served jail time in Nashville for stealing a car. If homophobic rappers are looking for a dubious sense of ‘authenticity’, then they can just as easily find it in Dean’s background as in the most masculine of gangsta rappers. But for Dean his purpose in writing the book was simply to shine a rare light on the most shadowed corner of some of the most popular music in the world.