Rev. Deborah Lake. Photo by Andrew Davis
Sankofa Way Spiritual Services, along with the Black Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender ( LGBT ) & Allies for Equality and members of the Gay Liberation Network, protested hip-hop artist DMX ( real name: Earl Simmons ) on July 26 at Chicago's House of Blues, 329 N. Dearborn.
The group decided to stage a rally after learning the venue was going to host the hip-hop artist, who has recorded lyrics such as 'I show no love to homo thugs/Empty out, reload and throw more slugs' from the song Where the Hood At?
As a line of approximately 75 individuals waited to go inside the venue ( some of whom would not have attended if they had not received free tickets ) , protesters marched up and down an adjacent sidewalk, carrying signs that read 'House of Blues is a House of Hate,' among others, and handing out pieces of papers with the rapper's anti-gay lyrics printed on them. Will Lockett of Sankofa Way urged concertgoers to heed the words to songs 'that call for the death of gay people. Don't be surprised if your group is next.'
Rev. Deborah Lake of Sankofa Way, who was the organizer of the event, told Windy City Times that there were several reasons for the protesters' presence. 'It's important to be here personally because I'm an out lesbian and I deal with homophobia, especially in the Black community, and I see the pain it causes in my life and other peoples' lives, as a minister,' she stated. ' [ Also, ] it's important to have visibility against what's put out as the norm. For instance, two young men asked me 'What do you have against [ DMX ] ?' I saw curiosity rather than confrontation—and that's my opportunity to give them something to think about.'
Lake also targeted major companies. 'Another reason to be out here [ involves ] corporate sponsorship. People are making money hand over fist, and are losing touch with their ethics. According to a recent survey done here in Chicago, it's easier to get a french fry in the West and South sides of [ the city ] than to get a piece of fruit. The grocery stores aren't there but the corporate junk food—McDonald's, Burger King and even liquor stores— is plentiful. It's the same way with the music; sponsors are feeding us junk.'
In a post-event e-mail to Windy City Times, Lake commented that one of the protesters was verbally threatened by an automobile passenger leaving the House of Blues. 'The young man in the car said, 'You know, you could get popped [ shot ] for doing that [ holding a sign against DMX ] ,' the note read. 'I was aware of the fact that the situation could get dangerous very quickly, and this exchange validated my expectation,' Lake added.
This incident was not the first time the House of Blues has been picketed. In 2004, people protested an appearance by reggae singer Capleton.
Jack Gannon, senior vice president of marketing at House of Blues Entertainment, had not responded to Windy City Times' repeated requests for an interview as the newspaper went to press.