11.03.2014

Ex-Gay Rapper Shakes It Off.

I was struck by two discursive moves that were being made in this story that I encountered through Facebook fans last week. It's a story that grows mostly out of the the interview that the reporter did with "ex-gay" & "Christian" rapper, Jackie Hill-Perry.  She tells the story of her salvation and her record's imminent release.

The stories I was most aware of though, were not the ones that Ms. Hill-Perry was telling.  The stories I was keenly aware of were the stories of how and why THIS story belonged in a national newspaper.

The fact that the Washington Times paid a reporter to write this story which gives a not-so-journalistically-balanced platform to Ms. Hill-Perry means that the paper KNOWS that there is an audience that wants to read this story.   What's more?  There are advertisers who want to reach an audience full of people who want to read The Ex-Gay-Ness Story.

The story of "ex-gay" has largely played-out and gone silent even in mainstream Evangelical discourse.   With the leaders of "Exodus" and other ex-gay treatments denouncing their techniques and presumption as being dangerous, wrong and problematic, the story in evangelicalism has largely shifted to an acceptance that being gay is not a choice.

Jackie Hill-Perry tells a different story. It's a straight up -- God saved me from the gayness.

I'm not interested in evaluating the veracity of her story because it's probably not a story that's over yet.  Given that she's still alive -- maybe we should reserve the happily ever after (or not) until later.  I am very interested in noting the resonance of her story, though.

To me this story is about the idea that despite the wide shift in public opinion regarding whether or not you can pray the gay away -- or if maybe being gay is something that can be shaken-off -- both a national newspaper and a indie hipster ("Christian") record label is leveraging Hill-Perry's ex-gay-ness to sell their brand.

Almost invisible in this story?  Are the self-loathing and other-loathing that the Ex-Gay-Ness Story demands.  But that's no surprise because that story won't sell records or papers to the crowd that these media makers are catering too.  But that doesn't make those stories go away.  There is a dark underbelly to every story, and it's worth mentioning what this dark underbelly looks like:

self-loathing and other-loathing

There's always a cost involved in telling stories too. Sometimes that cost is invisible though or at least really hard to see.  The cost always correlates to the payout, too.  So pay attention to how much traction this story gets, and you'll have a rough estimate of how much (mostly invisible) self-loathing and other-loathing is going on somewhere less public and more personal.

While Hill-Perry's artistic gifts are not limited to the story of her ex-gayness nor to the promotion of a politically conservative brand, in many ways the promotional stories that ride like viruses throughout much today's popular art (in product placements, celebrity endorsements and advertisements-shaped-like-art) will outlast the art that was their host.

The story of gay "lifestyles", the gay "choice" and Ex-Gay-Ness has been around for awhile and thanks to the collaboration of The Washington Times and the Humble Beest record label?  It'll stay around for a while longer.

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