Language Lessons

Photo_AzealiaBa_300RGB-BY-Brooke-Nipar

Being 21, rising New York rapper Azealia Banks tweets a lot.

Banks, known for the 2011 viral hit “212,” is openly bi — new terrain for hip-hop. The gay world brings its own linguistic landmines. Like the N-word, terms are coded and use has much to do with ownership.

About a week ago, Banks got into it on Twitter with rapper Angel Haze. Perez Hilton jumped in, and Banks called him “a messy faggot.” She described the slur as “any male who acts like a female.” And said: “As a bisexual person I knew what I meant when I used that word.”

GLAAD condemned Banks, and rumors flew that Interscope threatened to drop her. (Her first full album, “Broke with Expensive Taste,” is due this year.)

This is not a good look for Banks. It mostly makes her look immature not very media-savvy. However, as a fellow queer, I see the layers at play. She took a white, powerful, mainstream-gay man down a peg with a word that would be considered “reading” (dressing down) in a gay club — which Twitter is not. It did not translate well at all, and she’s the one who looks messy. Banks got policed hard by the wider world while Perez (who, by the way, called Will.i.am that word in 2009) successfully calculated the publicity boost.

Most depressing to me, though, is that, even gay to gay, the worst thing Banks could think of to call a man was a woman.

express

express

Success! Check your inbox for details. You might also like:

Please enter a valid email address

See all newsletters

Comments
Show Comments
Most Read

express

express

Success! Check your inbox for details.

See all newsletters

Next Story
Local MBA students take their newfound skills to the worlds of nonprofits and NGOs
Tracy Krulik · January 14, 2013