Monday, August 16, 2010

Steph Jones: The Gays Are Coming

Musician and hip hop artist Steph Jones has been releasing a series of videos on youtube regarding his thoughts on various issues.  His most recent deals with his thoughts on the LGBT community.  Steph is a straight, cis man and that must be taken into consideration when listening to what he has to say.  It is also important to note that the community to which he belongs has never been openly accepting of the LGBT community and so this video was a risk for him to create.  He is making these series of videos to start conversations.

Transcript:

Scrolling on a black screen are the words:

My intentions are to start up a mature dialogue amongst others. I realize everyone won’t agree with my views which is why I welcome any and all comments…enjoy

What’s going on world?  This is your boy Steph Jones and right we are in the storage.  The storage is where we talk about anything that has to with real related.  We deal with real people, real problems, real comments, real requests.  None of this filtered and I am trying to reprogram your mind.  This is what’s really going on amongst real people.  So this is what were going to talk about. So a very very popular topic is the gays.  Some of y’all with throw out the word gay is it if had some kind of poison attached to it.  (Graphic of a head saying, the gays are coming everybody run.  The gays are coming oh no.  The gays are coming.) Really, is it really that bad?  Gay people aren’t bad.  My favourite uncle Duane R.I.P. he was so awesome and when I was younger I didn’t understand the concept of what gay was.  I just knew that he wore a lot of bright colours and he was very happy all the time and had a lot of energy.  So shout out to to uncle Duane R.I.P. (he looks upward) man eh I’m repping for you homey.  Don’t think I ain’t repping for you. 

Screen fades to black and the following words appear in purple.

Steph why did you the NOH8 campaign?

Yes I shot the no hate campaign and a lot of my friends was like why would do that, it’s just no right?  Like why would you take away somebody’s right?  If they’re in love I don’t care who you fall in love with.  First and foremost I’m in support of it.  I’m in support of anybody that’s falling in love. Like, honestly do you know how hard it is to fall in love with somebody who you can consider your soulmate—or somebody who you want to spend the rest of your life with?  So if you’re a dude and you fall in love with another dude, that has absolutely nothing to do with me.  I don’t care what anybody else says.  You go and y’all live y’all happy lives for the rest of y’all life and just be happy.  I want people to be happy. There’s so many miserable people in the world, rich poor, it doesn’t matter.  Some days I go down the street and people just got this mean look on they face. It’s like oh man brother you stressing away years, and years and years.  And so if you need to find that in a man and fall in love, then you go out and do that.  If I could issue a marriage for y’all to get married, I personally would do it.

Screen changes to multicoloured draped with the words:

SO SUPP SAFE SEX

followed by a gong and the words:

I ALSO SUPPORT SAFE SEX

A comment bubble appears with the words:

4 both black men and women, having unprotected sex w/a man is the leading cause of HIV infection. Among black men living w/HIV, 43% were infected through male-to-male sexual contact.  Among this group the young are particularly affected.

We’re in 2010, this ain’t 1955, this ain’t 1988 and things are constantly changing.  If you would have told me 30 years ago that there’s going to be a cell phone, that I can get on twitter – talk to all of this different people and then get on Ichat and google chat and do all these different things, I would be like man, get the hell outta here. But as evolution set in, things just happen.  You just have to learn to deal with it.  The people, the naysayers that just literally want to go by the book and honestly in my opinion I’m like what, what book.  And I am not referring to the bible but I’m just like what book.  It’s like there’s so many people the right in their own mind to live their life.  They want to follow certain patterns.  You follow certain patterns you will get the same thing.  You already see that all life is messed up, so why not change something different?  My father always told me, “if you always do what you’ve always done, then you will always get what you’ve always got.  In other words change it up.  Change it up.  Change brings growth, says Mr. Michael Maddox. So my thing is I love the gays.  I love the straights.  I love the lesbians. I love the transexuals.  I just love people in general and this is no ploy to gain popularity.  I’m on here just speaking my heart. I genuinely love people; the greater good of people.  So do you, do you honestly, don’t worry about what all these other jokers say.  And y’all gays I know y’all been taking punishment for a long, long, long, long time.  Y’all have to stop being so sensitive. Grow some tough skin, cause people goin talk, no matter what.  No matter what you do, no matter what I do be it good or bad.  Jesus is said to be perfect and people hate on him every single day.  So just live your life, be happy.  And if people aren’t happy around you, then surround yourself around an environment that’s gonna be happy.  You have my support, I love y’all. Umm uh what else?  I even learned so new lingo.  The kids, work, you’re giving be life.  I actually use these things, so we can work together – that’s all I’m saying.

Screen fades to Black and the following words appear in a bold pink:

STEPH!! RUMOUR HAS IT THAT YOU PUT A GUY ON YOUR COVER

Yeah and so for the cover of single beautiful I, you know me I’m always inclusive.  I just like for people to bond together because I just want people to bond together.  And I didn’t just want all women on my cover.  I know people are going to be shocked when they find out that I actually put a man on my cover.  His face got cut off just because the balance of him at the top was the thing but I’ll show the actual photo and he’s doll face barbie on twitter and youtube.  And I when I first asked him, it kind of threw him off, cause he was your single is about beautiful ladies and stuff like that.  I was like man you come down here and represent for your people brother.  And that is just how I am .  I don’t care if somebody tells me not to do it.  This is my song that I’m a vessel for,that I was created to show everybody that self love helps then and their sense of beauty – cause everybody has a sense of beauty.  You may not see it but the next man that’s coming around the corner be like (big gasp) Now that’s beautiful. You see what I’m saying?  There’s a person out there for every last one of you: gay, straight, transexual, lesbian.  It don’t matter.  Those are people.  Those gays have a mother and a father, just like you and I.  So you should really thing about that ‘cause they are people to; they’re not aliens.  So shout out to my lesbians, shout out to my gays, shout out to my trannys.  Whatever preference you are, shout out, how about that? And um yeah, that’s just what it is.  This is real life 2010.  Very progressive, very creative, and at the end of the day, I don’t care gay, straight, queer, it doesn’t matter. At the end of the day, if a man respects you, then you respect him back.  If he disrespects you then that’s a whole different story.

Screen fades to black and the following words appear in a bold gold font:

STEPH!! DID YOU REALLY DRESS UP LIKE A GIRL FOR HALLOWEEN?? HOW COULD YOU??

I will be the first to tell you that I dressed up like a girl for halloween. I was actually supposed to dress up like David the naked dude with the leaves and the bush (Actually it was Adam not David scrolls across the screen) I couldn’t find the right leaves, they was too small – but that’s a whole nother story.  So I was like, what can I wear that is going to be very impactful, that’s going to be on every blog? I was like I’m a have to dress up like a girl.  I dressed up as a girl, had the makeup done, had some tights on and a bad weave with my naps poking out in the front. And it was a showstopper, it was everything I wanted to do.  I actually posted the pic that like when people saw it, they were like OMG I can’t believe Steph you dressed up as a girl.  The people loved it and some of you people hated it.  They were like, my man would never do that.  That’s because your man ain’t as secure as I am.  I don’t care, that’s the problem.  I don’t care.  You can say whatever you want about me.  You can say anything you want about me.  You’re not stopping me from paying my bills.  I’m having a good time on this earth, one time – live it up.  Have fun.  I jumped out of a plane on my birthday.  I jumped out of a plane – crazy. It was the most riveting experience I’ve ever experienced in my life.  Y’all you really have to learn to live your life.  Stop focusing on everybody else.  How you goin focus on everybody else and not focus on yourself?  That’s like a plant trying to grow fruit without even being planted and the leaves growing.  How you going to do that? Focus on your own plant and grow and then when the fruit is produced that’s when the seeds come out and then that’s when you can plant the seeds.  So, but focus on your own life.  So if other dudes – if a dude want to go marry a dude then let the dude marry a dude.  And if a girl wants to marry a girl, then so be it.  Eh, if you are happy in your own skin, then just be happy. Those of you that are concerning yourself with everyone else’s life, I think you should slap yourself with a bag of nickels and then wake up to reality.  2010 focus on your own life, and then figure out what your own right path is and then go for it.  And then make your own mark in this life because date when you are born and the date when you die means absolutely nothing without that dash in the middle.  Make that dash your legacy so it’s born in 1985 died in 2040 but the dash in the middle is what you need to make the best of.  Let the gays be gay, let the straights be straight – it doesn't matter.  I’m happy for all y’all just be happy – one big happy family.  And as you and I both know we’ll never live in a perfect world, but at least we can make an effort to try you know.  If everybody acted exactly the same, this world would be so boring and my post would be boring.  I would just be like okay well, that would be just like a big field of robots that had no personality.  It would  just be a boring thing.  So I love all of y’ll people.  I love the haters. I love the naysayers. I love the supporters.  I love the people who are nonexistent that are soon to be existent.  I am grateful and appreciative for all of you guys.  And so until next time this is your boy Steph Jones.  We’re in the storage with real people, real stories, real everything. 

Steph certainly had a lot to say and I think that it is a great jumping point for conversation.  I showed this video to Sparky and Monica of TransGriot, because I was concerned whether intent excused some of the problematic message in the video, they had the following to say.

Sparky:

I think it’s positive. I like it. Hells, i think it’s a whole lot better than Benjamin Jealous’ speech - he should take notes!
Oh he says some things that make the odd flinch - “sexual preference” and “trannie” and telling gay people to be less sensitive (which so not a good idea). He uses “gay” as a noun which some people don’t like but, personally, I’m not bothered by “the gays” (though “a gay” isn’t as fun) because “gay people” all the damn time is awkward as hell.
But it is heartfelt, it is real, it is positive. Yes, he isn’t informed or fully aware - but how many people are? He is brave and courageous to hold this views in a genre that is hostile to them. His message is extremely positive, his passion is real - and it’s a genuine, real, belief that this is right - not for PR (because it won’t help him) not for kudos (because he won’t get them)
I like it. it’s not perfect but it’s good and positive and it’s forward and its refreshing. I do think it is over all a good thing - yes there are issues, but they don't, in my eyes, overwhelm the generally positive of it. It shinies, the shadows don't hide that

Monica:

The message in Steph Jones' video was refreshing, timely, needed and very positive.   It's also cool that it's coming from someone in the hip hop community   
The only problematic part of it from where I sit as a trans person was his using a word to describe us that some transpeople consider insulting or a slur in 'trannie' .
So keep on preaching the message, Steph.   It's one that needs to be heard, especially in the hip hop community..  
But heads up.  If you wish to continue being a supportive ally for the trans community,  please don't use that word to describe transpeople..  

I am very interested to hear your thoughts on what Steph had to say, given the culture that he is coming from, is intent enough to erase the false steps he made in his activism?  Do you view this as a positive sign coming from the hip hop community?