I recently finished an advanced copy of Terrance Dean
’s Hiding in Hip-Hop
, which is in stores today. This Thursday at 6pm Terrance Dean will be at The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center for a book reading, a question and answer session with the audience and interview with me—see details below to attend.
I won’t be doing a full review of the book, but here are a few of my initial thoughts.
First, I always commend anyone for telling their story. It must be a terrifying thing to do, knowing how many will judge. Outside of closeted men in hip-hop, Dean goes into detail about his relationship with his family. The details of his family life are when the reader gets the most powerful writing from Dean. The stories of his mother, who was an addict and died of HIV/AIDS, or his two brothers who died of HIV/AIDS, are emotional and transcendental of the gay or even black experience. Congrats to Dean for capturing that voice.
I was a little taken aback by Dean stating the reason why he is gay is because he was molested at thirteen. To chalk up sexuality as a reaction to something negative is problematic, I don’t believe gay can be implanted by abuse. If that is the case then much more than 10% of the United States would not be heterosexual. However, I do respect Dean for revealing what he believes is his truth (it’s not like anyone would pressure him to say he was “made” gay by pedophilia, considering this is the worst stereotype of homosexuality). Also, he never insinuates this is the route for every one.
There are endless references to being on the “down low”—on one page alone, the word “down low” was used thirteen times. There were moments where I felt like I was warped back to 2005 with J.L. King’s On the Down Low (a book he didn’t even fully write, which was revealed by Keith Boykin in Beyond the Down Low). On one hand, this is not a good thing because King was criticized by the gay community for waving the flames of hyper paranoia among black women. On the other hand, King was revered as a savior among black women for “exposing all these men who are giving us HIV/AIDS”. I’m not sure where this will leave Dean.
Terrance Dean identifies as G-A-Y. Regardless of his struggles throughout the book, he does not pull a J.L. King, who said he was bisexual and still dating women.
Lastly, some of Dean’s commentary on religion is extremely thoughtful, introspective, and something many “DL Christians” need to read. He finds an interesting way to capture the struggles of a black gay man in the church.
Above all, hats off to Dean for sparking this dialogue, which has been non-existent in hip-hop.
If you would like to be in the audience for my interview (I'm going in Barbara Walters style!) with Terrance Dean, here are the details:
The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Community Center
208 West 13th Street
New York, NY
Thu, May 15 2008
Doors open at 6:00pm, program starts at 7pm
Price: $10 (pay at door)