At first glance, Y-Love seems like your average rapper, but there’s a few things that make Y-Love the great man he is today: he’s gay, he’s Jewish and the obvious, he’s black.
In the wake of same-sex marriage debates all over America, Y-Love decided to rid himself of the lie he was living and come out of the closet to reveal his true sexuality.
Y-Love’s story isn’t a fairytale by any means.
Growing up in Baltimore, Maryland, Y-Love was discriminated against and ridiculed for being gay. While dealing with his own emotions regarding his homosexuality, Y-Love converted to Judaism in 2000.
Soon realizing that he was going to be forever gay and no religion could mask it, Y-Love decided to come out of the closet and feels like the burden has been lifted off his shoulders.
GlobalGrind caught up with Y-Love to talk about homophobia in hip-hop, President Barack Obama’s recent endorsement of same-sex marriage, and religion.
Check out our exclusive interview below!
GlobalGrind: What made you decide to come out of the closet?
Y-Love: I’ve wanted to come out for a few years now. It’s been something that’s been eating at me. It’s been sitting on my shoulders for years now. I’m sick of living a lie, not being able to live a normal life, meet people, and not being able to be open about anything. I’ve wanted to for years, but I’ve always been conscious about, what’s the community going to say? What’s the religious community going to say? What are hip-hop fans going to say? Now, Obama and Jay-Z are coming out for American equality, and things like that, but there’s been so much backlash from the right wing. You have Michele Bachmann advocating ex-gay therapy. You have kids jumping out of windows. You have Tyler Clementi jumping off a bridge. This is a time where I want to be a voice out there; strong and proud in the hip-hop community.
When was the first moment that you realized you were attracted to the same sex?
I’ve never had any questions in my mind about myself. I first knew I was gay when I was about six years old, my entire life. That would be the year when I was in first or second grade. That was also the same year I got called faggot for the first time on the school bus. With that realization, also came the realization of homophobia, and I’ve been actively in and out of the closet since then. I’ve always known from first second it was something you had to hide.
So in and out of the closet, does that mean you lived a straight lifestyle and a gay lifestyle back and forth?
Well, no. In middle school I would go out with girls, have girlfriends, and date girls. After eighth grade, I decided I couldn’t lie anymore. Then, I started high school, realized I couldn’t be outside the closet. It was just too much to handle. I went back in the closet, started dating girls again in ninth grade, and it would go on back and forth like that. Can’t deal with the homophobia? Go back in the closet. Until I decided to become Jewish in 2000, and I converted to Orthodox Judaism. That for me was kind of, “You have to put this behind you, and live a Godly lifestyle now!” I went back in the closet for 10 years. Now I can’t do it anymore, and this is it!
When I looked you up, I said he’s a black, gay Jewish rapper, which means you’re a part of every group that’s ever been discriminated against!
Well, I’m also half Puerto-Rican!
It takes bravery and courage because people hate the Jews, people hate Gays, people hate black people and people of darker hues.
I’ve been victimized in every possible way. I got shot at in high school once for taking a boy to a dance my Junior year of high school. You want to talk about anti-gay violence! I got beat up around the hood. I grew up in East Baltimore. You want to talk about late anti-Semitism! An anti-Semitic bus driver has thrown me off a bus once. You want to talk about racism in the Jewish community? It took me three years before I got my first job there. I didn’t get rented an apartment in the Hasidic community for the first year. I’ve been the recipient of all of these things.
Has there ever been a time where you felt extremely hopeless and just ready to give up or suicidal?
Oh yeah! I think I said in the Out magazine how I attempted suicide twice, or came close to committing suicide twice. Once I got talked out of it in Israel, and once I got interrupted in New York.
What was your initial reaction when Barack Obama came out and said, “Listen! I know I’ve been stubborn on this issue, but I’ve had a change of heart, and I’m coming out to say I support same-sex marriage?”
Of course, I’m happy that the President has evolved his opinion, and I’m also happy to see that the President is affirming as the Supreme Court said, “The Fundamental Right” of every American to marry who they want. There’s a flipside of that, which sparks a little bit of anger within me. Howard Dean, head of the Democratic National Congress, said when talking about the marriage equality defeat in North Carolina, how his position is also still evolving on this issue, but we have to affirm the rights of Americans. I thought, “Why is it that my rights have to wait on all of you to evolve?” Straight people, heterosexual people, have the most unchecked privilege in society. People talk about white privilege. Straight privilege is far more pervasive. It’s like there’s this unspoken entitlement to say we have determined what marriage is, and we have decided that it doesn’t apply to you. Who are you to say such things?! It angers me that we have a debate on the fundamental rights of other people.
What do you think the solution is to racism, anti-Semitism, homophobia, sexism and all the isms?
Everybody in a majority group, whether its white people, non-Jews, or straight people have their evolutionary process to go through. The only way to battle ignorance is with education. The only way to battle hate is with love. Everyone should try to expand their horizons, and learn as much about other people as they think, because it’s only through learning that you humanize other people. Otherwise, they’re just words.
What about bullying and suicide in today’s schools? I think it’s important to stress to the kids, even though you might feel hopeless, that suicide is not the answer. It does get better.
100 percent, it does get better! Like I said before, it doesn’t get better, it is better! You don’t catch suicide like you catch the flu. It doesn’t just happen. Suicide comes as a symptom from a long series of low-self esteem, depression, hopelessness, feelings of impending doom, and things like this. Start building self-esteem in September, and then you won’t see the depressed kid in May. In September there’s already Gay-Straight alliances to go to. Counseling hotlines to call. Kids know about legal defense funds if somebody beats them up. Kids know about the gay and lesbian community center in their neighborhood. If those resources are made available from the beginning, and people see that you really are worth something, you really are as good as everybody else in your class from the get-go—as early as Middle school—that will be what prevents suicide from even happening in the first place.