Religious Jock and Hip-Hop Station Love The Gays

9.16.2013

By Andrew Belonsky

Mister Cee and Steve Young are game changers.

We mentioned last that Mister Cee, a well-known personality at the influential New York hip-hop radio station Hot 97 had resigned over persistent rumors that he was picking up cross-dressing prostitutes. But Cee has rescinded that resignation. Or, to be more precise, it was never accepted. Rather than running Cee out of town, Hot 97 program director Ebro Darden held an on-air conversation about Cee's sexuality and his future at the station. During that convetsation, Cee, real name Calvin LeBrun, said that he feared professional repercussions for coming out as not completely straight (the DJ admitted he's still in denial but implied he is gay), while Darden made clear that Hot 97 stands by their man. "There's nothing wrong with being who you are," said Darden. "You're free, Cee!"

The New York Times described Cee's story and Darden's embrace as part of a larger "generational shift" in hop-hop that speaks to both class changes within the genre's mainstream and to the broadening of its fan-base: "Antigay sentiment has long been part of that world — two decades ago there were virtual witch hunts to root out rappers who might be gay — but as hip-hop becomes more central to pop culture, its values are evolving. It’s no longer tenable for hip-hop to be an island."

Reporter Jon Caramanica continues:

"By embracing Mister Cee unreservedly, by publicly showing in no uncertain terms that he is worthy of love, and by insisting he belonged on the air, Mr. Darden took an implicit stand on behalf of Hot 97, and maybe by extension, of hip-hop. He answered Mister Cee’s bravery with tolerance, a loud rebuke to those who might prefer to keep hip-hop difference-free."

Meanwhile, on the other side of the country, a very different group of people — Mormons, an overwhelmingly white religious congregation — gathered in Salt Lake City for the 2013 International Affirmation Conference, a confab for LGBT and LGBT-friendly Mormons who want to bridge a gap as ugly and public as the one between hip-hop and homosexuality. The keynote speakers at the event were Steve Young, a former quarterback for the San Francisco the 49ers, and his wife, Barb.

Though affiliated with two bastions of homophobia, the NFL and the Mormon Church, the Young family is 100% behind LGBT equality. Mr Young said he wants "to build bridges with my gay brothers and sister." And Mrs. Young, who has a gay brother and converted to Mormonism for her marriage, said that the church is, thankfully, changing for the better. "One of the most beautiful things about this church is that it can evolve," she said, according to the AP report. "It may not go as fast as everyone wants, but it is evolving."

Being a religious event, Steve and Barb Young relied on Christianity to make their case. "We need to see each other as Jesus sees us," said the quarterback, while his wife later commented, "If we consciously embrace Jesus' teaching of empathy, compassionate, and love, the future world will be different." Though anathema to some, especially within the LGBT community, this religious rhetoric, coming from a football star and his wife, will undoubtedly resonate with a large portion of the United States, just as Mister Cee and Ebro Darden's will resonate with another large group, and, in some places, those seemingly different communities will overlap, intermingle, and come together to fight for something many thought they would never embrace.

The game's changed, and there are more players than ever.

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