Nicki Minaj Isn’t Bisexual

In a Rolling Stone interview rapper Nicki Minaj says she’s not bisexual, despite her own words to the contrary:

Early in her career Minaj claimed to be bisexual, but now says she just did that to get attention. “I think girls are sexy,” she says. “But I’m not going to lie and say that I date girls.”

At, the headline “Nicki Minaj Admits She Lied About Being Bisexual” was followed by this subhead: “Does Nicki Minaj set back bisexual visibility with her revelations?”

I find the subhead question interesting not only from an advocacy perspective, but also from a fair and accurate coverage perspective. Will this revelation make it more difficult to accurately tell the stories of bisexuals?

Her revelation also begs these questions: How much and how deep should reporters follow up? Is it now open season for reporters to prove or disprove her assertion that she is not bisexual?

R.I.P. Whitney Houston

If you’re old enough to remember the 1980s, then there is no question that you often heard Whitney Houston’s voice emanating from radios worldwide. Only a handful of solo artists in the past few decades could claim to be in her league at the height of her powers. Her death this past weekend at the age of 48 was sadly premature.

She was still so beloved that ratings of the Grammys about doubled from last year with about 40 million viewers, second only to 1984 when Michael Jackson won his Thriller awards. People tuned in to hear Jennifer Hudson sing in tribute the Dolly Parton song “I Will Always Love You” that Houston made famous.

Depending on the media outlet, the coverage of Houston’s death ranged from scandalous to respectful. That’s to be expected in the case of any famous person, but the alleged circumstances of her death only heightened the interest. The official cause of death has not been released, but most people assume drugs contributed.

It’s that assumption that has fueled some of the most distasteful coverage, but also some of the most inspiring. An example was “The Last Word” with Lawrence O’Donnell on MSNBC, which dedicated the entire hour two days after her death. He originally had guests for another segment on politics that he bumped to continue the lofty conversation. Drugs and alcohol were discussed, but in the context of addiction and recovery.

In the mix was the delicate issue of discussing lesbian rumors. I didn’t see any references in broadcast media, but I did see a few online. An article at the day after her death was complementary, especially about her attitude concerning LGBT people. It did include, however, her denial from a 2000 interview of the lesbian rumors. took it up a notch two days after her death with an entire article dedicated to exploring the lesbian rumors.

We’ve come a long way from the days of Malcolm Forbes, when Michelangelo Signorile reported after he died that Forbes was gay. That was the start of the “outing” controversy, which remains to this day but greatly diminished. I believe it is fair to say that a majority of people think there is nothing wrong with asking celebrities if they’re gay.

My discomfort is not in the asking or discussing as it is in the timing. As the saying goes for jokes about dead celebrities — “Too soon?” — perhaps it’s too soon to be indulging in rumors, or at least a version of events that Houston denied. There will be plenty of time to dive into the juicy details of her life, but could we at least wait until after the funeral?

“No Homo” in Hip Hop

Diplomatic_Immunity_1The use of the phrase “no homo” in hip-hop music was analyzed recently in “Does This Purple Mink Make Me Look Gay?” by Jonah Weiner, a pop critic for

The phrase has been around since the 1990s and is invoked whenever a person wants to make it clear that what he or she just said was not meant to have a gay connotation, despite what it may sound like.

According to the article, a recent example of the phrase occurs in a new Jay-Z song titled “Run This Town” in which Kanye West, the featured guest on the single, utters the following: “It’s crazy how you can go from being Joe Blow to everybody on your dick—no homo.”

The author of the Slate article weaves a tale of how use of the phrase has a progressive slant, even if it may not be readily apparent to a casual observer (much like myself):

“Beyond this, there’s a sense in which no homo, rather than limiting self-expression in hip-hop, actually helps to expand it. We see this play out in the rhymes and personas of the term’s most famous practitioners. Cam’ron and the Diplomats are, ironically, among the most homoerotic MCs in rap. They wear pink and purple furs and brag regularly about how good they look … When these rappers say “no homo,” it can seem a bit like a gentleman’s agreement, nodding to the status quo while smuggling in a fuller, less hamstrung notion of masculinity. This is still a concession to homophobia, but one that enables a less rigid definition of the hip-hop self than we’ve seen before. It’s far from a coup, but, in a way, it’s progress.”

I find this assessment a stretch at best, but hopeful if even half true. I found some discussion of it online in the LGBT blogs Queerty and Band of Thebes. However, an article about it on New York magazine’s web site provided my favorite response:

“To call this progress might also be premature. After all, getting playful with gay-sounding phrases isn’t the same as winking at gays. Wordplay is what rappers do, and, in this case, they’re still doing it to explicitly call out what is “gay.” In a sense, “no homo” is just a more evolved way of calling someone a “faggot” — and evolved partly in that it’s more clever.”

Couldn’t have said it better myself. I’m glad to see this kind of discussion about LGBT-related word usage in the mainstream media—it would be nice to see more of it.