Asher Roth: Straight but Not Narrow

26 Dec

Jameson weighs in on last week’s gay-or-straight buzz about hip-hop artist Asher Roth.

Since hip-hop artist Asher Roth is not, in fact, gay, the rumors circulating last week about his alleged plans to come out during an interview with E! might not seem particularly important as anything other than a lesson about the credibility of information on the Internet. But, being the big queer reader that I am, I feel the situation deserves a fair queer reading.

To begin: I’ll admit that the aforementioned lesson about information on the Internet is a lesson I personally learned from all this, as I totally believed the story when I saw someone post a link on Facebook and was totally excited about it. Obviously, any amount of queer representation in the mainstream hip-hop world is more than we have now, so even a one-hit wonder like Roth would have been a win for Team Gay. But more importantly, I was thrilled by the prospect of a celebrity embodying a queer masculinity different from the stereotype perpetuated by prejudice…and, admittedly, many of the most high-profile gay celebrities who have come out in recent years.

I am all about Lance Bass and Clay Aiken being out and proud, but let’s face it: the revelations that they are gay were about as surprising as the discovery than tanning beds are bad for you (and yes, that is a dig at you, Lance). I believe all expressions of sexuality and performances of gender are equally legitimate, meaning while I think the visibility of more stereotypically “gay” men like Bass and Aiken is important, I think that more traditionally masculine gay men should also be represented. Not because they are easier for mainstream America to…swallow (forgive me), but because without them we forget that diversity includes everyone, not just those closer to the margins. 

I also applaud Roth for his statement on the matter (even if his use of the word ‘persuasion’ is a little ‘90’s):

I hate to disappoint and take away the entertainment of it all but I am straight, not gay. It’s disheartening to know such “news” on someone’s personal life can be portrayed as fact with no viable source. This, to me, is an opportunity to expose our vulnerability to lies and manipulation through unprofessional and irresponsible news outlets, in which people consider TRUTH. Further, someone’s sexual orientation should NEVER be big news, as it delivers a troubling message to children that they can’t be themselves without fear of judgment. Race, creed, and sexual persuasion should not just be tolerated but understood and accepted. It’s extremely disappointing that this topic would be used with the intention of being hurtful. We are near 2010….2010!! Yet race, sex and religion still play a major role in a hate driven society. For the love of the future and humanity….let’s wake up.

Regardless of whom Roth is sleeping with, it’s still more-or-less a win for Team Gay. Plus, if you go to NYU, there is automatically something gay about loving college.

The Philadelphia Weekly blog that got Roth’s statement: Asher Roth is not, in fact, gay.

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