Windy City Media Group Frontpage News

THE VOICE OF CHICAGO'S GAY, LESBIAN, BI, TRANS AND QUEER COMMUNITY SINCE 1985

home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2022-06-08
DOWNLOAD ISSUE
Donate

Sponsor
Sponsor

  IDENTITY

BOOK REVIEW: Hiding in Hip Hop
2008-07-01

This article shared 6267 times since Tue Jul 1, 2008
facebook twitter google +1 reddit email


Written by Terrance Dean $23; Atria Books; 305 pages

Review by Yasmin Nair

By now, the term 'on the down low' has become a part of everyday language. Beginning with J. L. King's 2004 book, On The Down Low: A Journey into the Lives of 'Straight' Black Men who Sleep with Men, the term has defined our perception of Black men's lives.

Men sleeping with men while acting straight isn't, of course, restricted to the Black community. And yet, public talk of the down-low phenomenon stands in for any kind of sustained discussion about homosexuality in the Black community. The high rates of HIV infection among Black women foster a further demonization of Black men, who are portrayed as deadly carriers of the virus. The result is a lack of systemic analysis of the causes of the spread of HIV among vulnerable populations, such as inequality or the high numbers of incarcerated black men—and women—who spend lives in jail without access to condoms or any HIV prevention resources.

Terrance Dean's new book, Hiding in Hip Hop, is about the down-low phenomenon in the music industry. It's also a memoir of growing up in Detroit and Dean's flight out of there. One of his earliest memories is of waiting while an intruder repeatedly raped his mother after threatening the four-year-old Dean with a gun.

Dean made it into the entertainment industry, where he found a community of people on the down low, including studio executives and musicians. According to Dean, the community in L.A. was cohesive enough to meet for regular social gathering s as well as the requisite sex parties. There are torrid, if sometimes fanciful, descriptions of sex that are a bit Harlequin Romance-ish.

The book doesn't reveal who's gay/bisexual in entertainment, but discusses the social and economic conditions that foster the down-low phenomenon. Hiding in Hip Hop tells us what we may already suspect about the implicit and explicit practices of racial exclusion in the entertainment industry. At one point, Dean worked as a production coordinator on 'The Keenen Ivory Wayans Show,' fresh on the heels of the comic's hit 'In Living Color.' He describes the cluelessness of white executives—who wanted Wayans to appeal to 'middle America'—about the existence of Black actors: 'it was always like pulling teeth to get the talent bookers to understand who some of the most prominent [ B ] lack actors were.' Under these circumstances, where most white gay actors are compelled to be closeted, Black actors must remain even more so.

The book's sometimes confusing in its chronology, and latter parts, where Dean writes about founding various organizations to enable, first, Black entertainers to speak about race in the industry and then about sexuality, read a bit like resumes listing his professional accomplishments. That said, this is far less sensationalist than it could have been—and actually provides some insights into the operations of the industry outside of the questions about sexuality.

The question is: What function will this book perform in a culture always eager for yet another reason to demonize Black men as dangerously duplicitous? What are the power differentials in the entertainment world where white lesbians like Ellen are more out than Black lesbians or gay men? Does simply being out solve the problems of an industry that makes enormous profits while paying pittances to some? Ellen's at the height of her popularity and lauded for her outness. But we forget that she was among the first to cross the writer's strike picket line—that fact should matter more to us than the fact that she's out.

Dean isn't accountable for all these issues. As Hiding amply demonstrates, the phrase 'We are everywhere' means empowerment for some. When applied to queer Black men in the entertainment industry, it could be construed as a threat to those who'd like to continue demonizing their presence. But as we read and discuss his book, we might consider the larger economic and political context in which sexuality operates.

Yasmin Nair can be reached at welshzen@yahoo.com . She also blogs at bilerco.com .


This article shared 6267 times since Tue Jul 1, 2008
facebook twitter google +1 reddit email

  ARTICLES YOU MIGHT LIKE

Gay News

SHOWBIZ JoJo Siwa, NFL player, gay country singer, 'Bliss,' MGK
2022-07-03
LGBTQ+ teen sensation JoJo Siwa will guest-star in the third season of Disney+'s hit series High School Musical: The Musical: The Series, Out Magazine noted. She will play Madison, a Camp Shallow Lake alum. Also, Corbin ...


Gay News

Ricky Martin at center of $3M lawsuit
2022-06-30
Superstar singer/actor Ricky Martin has been sued by his former talent manager, Rebecca Drucker, Deadline reported. Drucker was Martin's manager during 2014-18 and 2020-22. The complaint, filed June 29 in Los Angeles Superior Court, seeks in ...


Gay News

R. Kelly sentenced to 30 years
2022-06-30
On June 29, Chicago-born R&B superstar R. Kelly was sentenced to 30 years in prison in U.S. District Court in Brooklyn, The Chicago Tribune reported. The sentence marked a fall from grace after decades of sexual-misconduct ...


Gay News

MUSIC 'All Day I Dream' festival Aug. 6 in Chicago
2022-06-29
All Day I Dream of Chicago Shimmer—part of the global touring festival All Day I Dream (ADID)—will take place on 31st Street Beach on Saturday, Aug. 6. After 10 years of producing hundreds of iconic day ...


Gay News

MUSIC Taylor Bennett announces free July 22 show at Lincoln Hall
2022-06-29
Chicago rapper Taylor Bennett—whose year has included teaming with Champion Athletics for a clothing line and tour; dropping his new project, Coming of Age; and much more—announced his free homecoming show on Friday, July 22, at ...


Gay News

Pride in the Park pumps up the volume in 2022
2022-06-27
From East Monroe Street to East Jackson Drive, Pride in the Park covered just the right amount of territory in the Grant Park area in downtown Chicago on June 25 and 26. Butler Field was overrun ...


Gay News

Back Lot Bash attendees party during Pride weekend in Chicago
2022-06-27
The inclusive music fest known as the Back Lot Bash took place June 25-26 at 5238 N. Clark St., in Andersonville. Back Lot Bash started in 2004 in response to the lack of women's events and the limited presence of ...


Gay News

WORLD Japanese ruling, Pride events, Colombia election, Boris Johnson
2022-06-26
A Japanese court ruled that the country's ban on same-sex marriage does not violate the constitution, and rejected demands for compensation by three couples who said their right to free union and equality has been violated, ...


Gay News

SHOWBIZ Elliot Page, NPH, Madonna, Chita Rivera, Jennifer Lopez
2022-06-26
Elliot Page talked with talk-show host Seth Meyers about how her Netflix show The Umbrella Academy incorporated the actor's own personal transition into season three of the series, Deadline noted. "With Steve Blackman, the showrunner of ...


Gay News

How Coming Out in the 1970s Helped Me Make Brave, Life-changing Decisions
2022-06-25
By Edith Forbes, author of Tracking A Shadow: My Lived Experiment With MS - As a child growing up in Wyoming in the 1960's, I did not know any actual person who was gay. I knew exactly one fact about gay people, a fact universally accepted but never talked about: Gay people were strange. Even ...


Gay News

Lynda Carter releases new single, 'Human and Divine'
2022-06-23
Many people are familiar with actress Gal Gadot as superhero Wonder Woman. However, decades before, Lynda Carter wore the bracelets and wielded the golden lasso as the Amazon princess who set many hearts (of men and ...


Gay News

Back Lot Bash taking place June 25-26
2022-06-22
The inclusive music fest known as the Back Lot Bash will take place June 25-26 at 5238 N. Clark St., in Andersonville. Back Lot Bash started in 2004 in response to the lack of women's events and the limited presence of ...


Gay News

The Andersonville Village Market returns for summer 2022
2022-06-21
-- From a press release - CHICAGO (June 21, 2022) The Andersonville Chamber of Commerce (ACC) is pleased to welcome back its 2nd annual Andersonville Vintage Market, featuring antiques, home décor, jewelry, accessories, clothing, music and ...


Gay News

Chicago Philharmonic launches 2022-23 season
2022-06-21
-- From a press release - CHICAGO, IL - (June 20, 2022) Chicago Philharmonic has announced its 2022-23 symphonic season on the heels of a 2021-22 season that ended with the sold-out Chicago Premiere of Marvel Studios' Black Panther in Concert. The ...


Gay News

Chicago Pride Fest adds new features to the outdoor celebration
2022-06-20
The Chicago Pride Fest outdoor celebration returned June 18-19, as local Pride events lead up to the parade on Sunday, June 26. The festival featured music on three stages and more than 150 vendors running down ...


 



Copyright © 2022 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.

 
 

TRENDINGBREAKINGPHOTOS







Sponsor
Sponsor


 



Donate


About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Advanced Search     
Windy City Queercast      Queercast Archives     
Press  Releases      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast      Blogs     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam     
Privacy Policy     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.