Russell Simmons Calls Homophobia a Societal Sickness
February 21, 2013 by Maureen McCarty, HRC Associate Director of Digital Media
In an interview with Reuters TV today, hip-hop mogul and founder of the label Def Jamz Russell Simmons sat down with Robert Wolf, outside advisor to President Obama, to his discuss his extensive enterprise and entrepreneurship as well as his opinion of the U.S. government.
When asked how rap and hip-hop have changed over the years, Simmons called the political commentary of the industry still as pertinent and prevalent as it was in the 90s.
“You still have the mirrors of our societal sickness: the homophobia, the sexism, the racism, the gangsta stuff. But that’s important. Because they’re not as homophobic as their parents. … They’re not as gangsta as our government.”
Today’s interview is not the first time Simmons has stood up for the LGBT community.
In 2011, he joined HRC’s New Yorkers for Marriage Equality campaign, calling on New Yorkers to stand up for rights of loving, committed same-sex couples.
More recently, Simmons supported openly gay rapper Frank Ocean’s decision to come out, stating it gave “hope and light to so many young people still living in fear.”
Momentum toward equality for all is growing, but homophobia and transphobia still exist in American culture. Discrimination or indifference along with social ostracism leaves many teens disaffected and disconnected in their homes and neighborhoods.
Nearly 47 percent of LGBT youth say they do not “fit in” with their community, while only 16 percent of non-LGBT youth feel that way.
Whether it’s a popular musician or an elected official, words have consequences. With the support of the LGBT community and straight allies like Simmons, we can continue to bend the arc toward equality and justice throughout our society.
Watch the interview in its entirety below:
April 21, 2014