Some people were frustrated when Macklemore and Ryan Lewis came out with “Same Love,” a song that was designed to promote the passage of R-74 in Washington State. Macklemore gained respect and popularity for the song, but those who were against it were irritated by his reference to his uncle being gay as an explanation for his understanding of peoples’ struggle with identity. Later on, a small NYC artist, Angel Haze, came out with a freestyle over the music to “Same Love,” which both explains her struggle with identity and coming to terms with how other people see her.
“No, I’m not gay/ No, I’m not straight/ And I sure as hell am not bisexual/ Damn it, I am whoever I am when I am it/ Loving whoever you are when the stars shine/ And whoever you’ll be when the sun rises”
The number of non-heterosexual music artists, especially in the hip-hop industry, is very small. Angel Haze not only breaks this barrier, but her music is raw and honest and her lyrics don’t follow anybody else’s agenda. She is open about her history of abuse, growing up in a cult-like religion, and understanding her sexuality (today she identifies as pansexual). Beginning at the age of five, Angel Haze was repeatedly raped by an extended family member. Angel Haze grew up in a house where people knew she was being sexually abused, and she never felt safe in her own skin. In her song, “Cleaning out my Closet” she discusses her experience growing up and coming to terms the psychological effects of her abuse.
“I was extremely scared of men so I started liking girls/ I started starving myself, fucked up my bodily health/ I didn’t want to be attractive to nobody else/ I didn’t want the appeal, wanted to stop my own growth/ but there’s a fucking reason behind every scar that I show/ I never got be a kid so that’s as far as I grow” (Angel Haze, Cleaning Out My Closet)
According to the theory that identities are constructed socially, Krista McQueeney says that sociologists believe that “identity is not idiosyncratic: it is shaped by the cultural and social conditions of our lives” (NSS, 293). Although I don’t necessarily believe that sexual identity are completely socially constructed, I do believe that they can change. “Identities are fluid: they can change over time and across situations. Who I am or who you perceive me to be, may not be who I say I am (or who you perceive me to be) five minutes, five months, or five years from now” (McQueeney, 293). Angel Haze’s bravery in expressing both her story and allowing people to understand her sexuality gives us a window to learning about changing sexual expression and identity and how someone doesn’t have to stay in the same place—or even participate in—the LGBTQIA alphabet.
It’s not easy to discuss Angel Haze through her sexuality, because she is clear and confident that she doesn’t desire to be labeled by how she does or does not identify, and that we should choose to understand her through her music. I hope you all will listen to the three songs/music video that I added to this post before commenting. As we study sexuality and different kinds of identities, do you think we should be more cautious to label? I believe that the alphabet allows us to expand and learn about the different kinds of recognized identities, but what about those identities that aren’t recognized by the alphabet? How do you thing Angel Haze and her music could influence the way we see sexual socialization and the danger of labeling identity?