By: Olivia L. Weitz
To describe Macklemore’s music video “Same Love,” a blogger who compiles rap and pop-artist videos that inspire support for marriage equality recently wrote: “If it weren’t for the specificity of the lyrics, you might think this video was about a couple that happened to be gay… that the story was mostly about people in love.” Truly the love story of a gay male couple told in the video through scenes walking hand in hand in Seattle’s gay-friendly Capitol Hill and later dancing at their marriage party, attended by all of their family and friends, is nothing short of beautiful. Lyrically, Macklemore admits passing Referendum 74—the Washington state bill legalizing gay marriage he hopes his video will inspire—is not enough. Paving the way for a more inclusive society that does not discriminate, he explains, will require speaking up, particularly, challenging hateful language towards gays.
One of the hateful phrases Macklemore mentions in “Same Love” that is oftentimes commented on youtube, and I have personally heard in the SUB at UPS, is “man that’s gay.” While I certainly do not consider youtube comment boards to be a place of thoughtful commentary, I do consider UPS generally to be a friendly place for the LGBTQ community. After all, Puget Sound ranks highly in lists like the Advocate’s College Guide for LGBTQ students. But with comments like these—that Macklemore’s lyrics explain are “rooted in hate” and make “gay synonymous with the lesser”—we know that our campus and certainly the rest of American society is far from all inclusive. “The consequence and impact of what we say, and the culture of shame and abuse it creates, has very real, sometimes deadly impacts upon LGBTQ young people looking for acceptance and belonging,” Macklemore explains in a post about his experience writing “Same Love.”
While passing Referendum 74 would be historic in making Washington state the first U.S. state to legalize same-sex marriage through popular vote, Macklemore explains “it’s not gonna solve it all, but it’s a damn good place to start.” To work towards a more just, inclusive place Macklemore strongly challenges us to directly confront language; because so long as “everyone else is more comfortable remaining voiceless,” so long as everyone who hears a gay joke chooses not to speak out against it, we perpetuate a culture of oppression that is rooted in language of hate.
My questions to the campus community then are: When someone says “that’s gay” or tells a gay joke what are your reactions? How do you confront that person’s statement? I’ll conclude with this Macklemore quote for inspiration: “Change happens when dialogue happens. When we confront our prejudice and are honest with ourselves, there is room for growth, and there is room for justice.”