The Enduring, Intergalactic Cool of Billy Dee Williams

As the legendary actor returns to Star Wars, he talks about his masculine and feminine sides, the legacy of Lando, and how after 82 years he’s never lost his style.

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Billy Dee Williams’s guide to being cool involves one simple step: “Be yourself.” He tells me this while sipping a Tito’s vodka neat with a little bit of Emergen-C sprinkled into it (a perhaps healthier choice than the Colt 45 with which he will be eternally associated after a string of ads for the drink in the ’80s). “I never tried to be anything except myself. I think of myself as a relatively colorful character who doesn’t take himself or herself too seriously.”

That’s a humble way of putting it. For nearly half a century, he’s been one of the coolest actors ever to appear onscreen. As Lando Calrissian, the suave, cape-wearing hero of the Star Wars universe, he’s immortalized as the quintessential figure of intergalactic chic. But beyond the sci-fi saga that has captivated generations, he’s a prolific actor and artist—he even designs his own clothes, showing up to our early-October photo shoot in a beautiful brown belted overcoat he made himself. When he starts telling me about what it takes to be cool, we’re at the beginning of our interview at the Russian Tea Room in midtown Manhattan. He’s already had a long day of graciously appeasing legions of fans at New York Comic Con. Williams hasn’t been to the restaurant in “a hundred years,” he says, but it was a regular haunt of his as a 20-something Broadway actor. (He lived a few blocks away before moving to California in 1971.)

The place hasn’t changed much since then; his favorite dish, the chicken Kiev, is still on the menu. In fact, he was so excited about this dish that we called the restaurant beforehand to make sure they could still make it. And, of course, I order it, too, because if Williams says you try the chicken Kiev, only a fool wouldn’t order the chicken Kiev. Over the course of our nearly-four hours of drinking and eating, we have more vodka, a bottle of red picked by Williams, caviar, a cheese plate, and a boozy dessert. Williams knows how to entertain. He knows how to eat. And he certainly knows how to drink. Sitting to my left in a plush, red booth, he seems like he runs the place, like it’s one of Lando’s regular joints in a far off galaxy. He’s kind to the fawning restaurant staff. And, when a group comes in, wearing what appears to be attire from a wedding or a formal party, Williams notes—always with an eye for style—that they look chic. Some of the paintings that’ve inspired his own artwork cover almost every inch of the green walls—like the Tamara de Lempicka portrait of a woman reclining opposite us. Williams grew up about 50 blocks north of here, on the edge of Harlem, where he learned what it meant to be cool from the guys on the streets who had “a little more smoothness about them.” After first appearing on Broadway as a boy, he went to school for painting, something he’s done regularly and to much acclaim throughout his acting career. Though, he admits, he doesn’t paint as much as he should these days.

What haven’t diminished at age 82 are his style, his confidence, and his effortless charm. In a simple tan button-up, with his hair slicked back, Williams continues his analysis of cool: “And you see I say ‘himself’ and ‘herself,’ because I also see myself as feminine as well as masculine. I’m a very soft person. I’m not afraid to show that side of myself.”

When I point out that Donald Glover talked about that type of gender fluidity when playing a young Lando in 2018’s Solo, Williams lights up. “Really? That kid is brilliant—just look at those videos,” he says, referencing Glover’s “This Is America” (as Childish Gambino).

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Although he will forever be known as Lando, Williams is proudest of his Emmy-nominated performance as Gale Sayers in the 1971 TV movie Brian’s Song. “It was a love story, really. Between two guys. Without sex. It ended up being a kind of breakthrough in terms of racial division,” he tells me. The same could be said about his portrayal of Lando in 1980’s The Empire Strikes Back, which marked the inclusion of a complex black character in a genre that was—and remains—notoriously white. In fact, over the summer, when he was at Disney’s D23 Expo in support of the upcoming Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (for which he is reprising his iconic role), he hung out with the Rock and Jamie Foxx, both of whom said their careers are indebted to Lando. “The Rock calls me the OG,” Williams says. “What I presented on that screen people didn’t expect to see. And I deliberately presented something that nobody had experienced before: a romantic brown-skinned boy.”

J. J. Abrams, who is directing the conclusion to the Skywalker saga, told me via email that Williams’s charisma and charm are unmatched. While Abrams says he can’t begin to imagine what it must have been like for people of color to see a character like Lando onscreen in 1980, he recognizes Williams’s place in film history. “Lando was always written as a complex, contradictory, nuanced character. And Billy Dee played him to suave perfection,” Abrams says. “It wasn’t just that people of color were seeing themselves represented; they were seeing themselves represented in a rich, wonderful, intriguing way. Also, he has the best smile in Hollywood.”

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Before he was even cast, Williams was a fan of George Lucas, beginning with 1971’s THX 1138. And director Irvin Kershner thought the actor had the right style for Lando, so Williams didn’t even have to audition for Empire. “He knew I could pull off someone who was likable and charming. The most interesting characters are those who are dubious . . . but you want the audience to really fall in love with them,” Williams tells me. (For the record, he understands why Lando had to double-cross Han and Leia. “He was up against Darth Vader. I don’t blame him for what he did.”) Kershner went to Williams’s house to persuade him to be in the film; it didn’t take much, the actor says, to get him to appear in one of the most anticipated sequels of all time. On set, he befriended costars Carrie Fisher (who he says had a brilliant mind) and Harrison Ford (whom he still considers a dear friend), and he avoided workplace gossip. “As far as I’m concerned, I mean, I don’t care what people are—if they’re fucking each other and they’re sucking each other, whatever they’re doing, that’s fine with me. I don’t care,” he says of Fisher and Ford’s romance, as described in her memoir.

If they’re fucking each other and they’re sucking each other …that’s fine with me.

Now, for the first time since 1983’s Return of the Jedi, he’ll play Lando once again. Between Jedi and the events of the new trilogy, Williams says, “I always imagined Lando being like Steve Wynn, running Las Vegas. Because he’s a gambler. But he was a bit of a showman, a bit of an entrepreneur. That’s how I see Lando. I never necessarily saw him as a general running around shooting things.”

We don’t know exactly what’s behind Lando’s return to the franchise, but trailers show the hero back in the cockpit of the Millennium Falcon. Stepping onto that set again, Williams says, was cool—but also work. “You’re bringing something that helps move the vision that the director or producer or writer is looking for. I’m there not only for myself, but I’m there to help them bring their project to life in a way that they’re looking for.”

He admired the atmosphere Abrams (or the young mogul, as Williams calls him) created on set. “At the end of the day, there’s music that’s turned on. Everybody’s dancing and singing,” Williams says, reminding me that he once played himself in an episode of Lost. His only worry in returning to the iconic character was that he still had the fire to bring a powerful performance to the conclusion of the saga, “Do I have that same hunger, excitement, that I had years earlier?,” Williams asked himself. “This is a very difficult time for me, as far as age is concerned. When you get to be a certain age, whether you want to think about mortality or not, you think about it.”

When our food finally comes, Williams takes a bite of the chicken Kiev he remembered so fondly from his younger days, and makes a comment that could work as a good thesis statement for our entire conversation, or the nature of nostalgia like Star Wars taking hold of this moment in popular culture: “An original moment is tricky. Because you’re really trying to recall or remember your palate, your sensibility, trying to recapture something that happened a long time ago,” he tells me. “And when you anticipate it, you think you’re going to be in that moment. I’m right at that moment. So what I’m tasting is not that moment. I’m tasting this moment. And I’m happy about this moment but it’s not what I remember.”

In preparation for his return to Star Wars, Williams went on a strict healthy diet, and shared videos of himself training in a boxing gym. “When I have to go to work, my ego tells me I want to look pretty good. I don’t want to look bad. I don’t want to look like a slob,” he says, even though none of these have been adjectives ever associated with Billy Dee Williams. But, he hopes the videos of himself training serve as a reminder that people his age are capable of taking care of themselves, that there’s a way to go through later years of life happy and healthy.

Having built his career playing pivotal examples of TV and film diversity, Williams is well aware of what the new trilogy’s young leads went through—namely, racism and sexism from online trolls—when they were launched into the spotlight. “You’re always going to have people making stupid comments,” he says. “One deals with indignities all the time. Do you sit around with vengeance in your soul? You can’t do that. I’m not forcing people to listen to my point of view, but if I can present it in some creative fashion—I’m the painter, tweaking, adding, contributing, putting in something that you haven’t thought about, maybe.”

Thinking about struggles in the world around him, Williams mentions his encounter with Donald Trump at an event in the ’80s: “He was very charming. And very good at being charming. You know the story of Narcissus? Who looked at himself in the water, fell in love with himself, and then fell in and drowned? I mean, this might be one of those kinds of things.”

As for what’s next, Williams is writing a memoir. And he also has a collection of 300 paintings that he says is his legacy.

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So is this the end of Lando? Williams says he doesn’t know exactly how the story ends for his hero. He loved the scripts he read, he’s proud of the work he did, but, “another thing about movies, there’s a lot of editing and cutting,” he says, laughing as he eats a cup of passion-fruit sorbet with a shot of vodka poured on top. For me: a double espresso with Grand Marnier that he insisted I try (I didn’t sleep that night).

By this time, we’re both warm from the hours of drinking—I’m astonished I was able to keep up with Billy Dee Williams, even if he’s 82 years old. And before he says goodbye, he wants to sign one more autograph in a long day of doing just that. He realizes that during the shoot and convention, where everyone was clamoring for his name, written by his own hand on a piece of paper, I never asked for one. That’s not my style, I tell him, this dinner and story is memento enough. He grabs my notebook that I haven’t opened once during dinner, signs his name with the note, “Nothing but the truth.” And he gives me a hug.

Back to the question at hand though: Is this the end for Lando Calrissian? Williams has an answer in his own wry way.

“It’s a conclusion—certainly it depends on how much money is generated. That’s when they determine where’s the conclusion,” he says with a wink. “The one thing about show business, you can resurrect anything.”

Police Arrest And Ban Preacher From Toronto Gay District After LGBT Crowd Mobs Him

27984747032_1fec489a51_o_810_500_75_s_c1Prime Minister Justin Trudeau carries a Canadian flag disfigured with the homosexual movement’s rainbow branding at Toronto’s Gay Pride Parade.

 

TORONTO, June 6, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) — A street preacher arrested for evangelizing in Toronto’s “gay village” was released Wednesday after a night behind bars on bail conditions barring him from “Pride” events and the homosexual district.

Police arrested David Lynn of Christ’s Forgiveness Ministries early Tuesday evening and charged him with disturbing the peace after a crowd protesting his message surrounded him and other street evangelists on the corner of Church and Wellesley Streets.

A full video of the incident posted a seven-minute edited version below:

The edited video shows Lynn using a microphone to declare he is “coming out as a Christian” and asking several people if they will “tolerate” him, but they refuse to engage with him.

“We have people who can’t say they even tolerate me, and I haven’t even said anything yet,” Lynn says as he’s hemmed in and jostled by people holding rainbow flags and pro-LGBTQ banners and signs.

Lynn states he doesn’t hate anyone, that some people hate Christians, and that some people want him to “stay in the closet” as a Christian, as he is followed, elbowed, and yelled at.

“Everyone’s accepted, and that’s what we preach as Christians,” he says. “Jesus died for the sinner…sin is when we violate the laws of God.”

As the crowd spills onto the road and tensions mount, more police arrive on the scene, 680 News reporter Melissa Nakhavoly notes on Twitter.

The video shows Lynn telling the Church and Wellesley neighbourhood’s Sergeant Henry Dyck, who is openly homosexual, he has a right to preach on the sidewalk and objecting to his arrest.

“What did I do?” Lynn asks as he is handcuffed and placed in a police car by at least five officers. “This is against the law. This is against the law … I was sharing the Gospel.”

“We arrested a man for disturbing the peace after he was allegedly yelling derogatory comments,” Dyck is heard saying on the video.

“There were people there that were clearly disturbed and appalled by the comments that were being made. I don’t know what those comments were, or exactly what it was that he was saying,” he states. “And so that man was arrested.”

Toronto Police Services are now investigating whether a hate crime charge is warranted.

“We had a number of individuals who came to the village and one had a bullhorn and they started making comments that were disparaging towards the LGBTQ community,” duty inspector Jim Gotell told CP24.

“Our hate crime investigators are going to be reviewing what was said today to determine if additional charges could be laid,” he said.

“We are asking people if they did make a video of what happened, to please turn it over to us.”

Dyck likewise defended the arrest to CityNews.

“The difficulty becomes when that expression on loud speaker and using screaming and insulting language results in people responding in a negative way,” he said.

“Unfortunately at that point, as you can see, the safety of everybody can be put at risk.”

But Lynn disputes that version of the incident.

“All I said was ‘God loves you, there’s hope for everybody.’ I didn’t do anything illegal, I was within my rights of the law. I didn’t go there to provoke anybody,” he told CityNews after his bail hearing.

Lynn will be in court to answer to the charge on July 10.

Meanwhile, he is barred from in the area bound by Bloor Street, Yonge Street, Carlton Street and Jarvis Street and from locations hosting “Pride Month” events.

Lynn was arrested the same day Mayor John Tory raised the pro-homosexual rainbow flag at City Hall to kick off June as “Pride Month.”

“It is very clear that a bias exists in Canada,” notes a message under the Torch of Christ Ministries video of the incident.

“Christian beliefs are being labeled as hate speech, and hatred and violence towards Christians is being allowed,” it states.

“Assaults against us are overlooked by law enforcement. Christians, you are being discriminated against. This is the truth.”

That won’t deter the Christians from evangelizing, Phillip Blair of Torch of Christ told CityNews.

“We believe that it’s worth the persecution against us,” he said. “We believe it’s worth the arrest. The truth is always going to be a very difficult, complex subject.”

In 2012, about a dozen police officers surrounded Lynn and his team as they preached near the corner of Yonge and Wellesley during the “Pride Parade” and forcibly shut them down.

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SHOCK VIDEO: Boxing Star Adrian Broner Appears . . . To KISS Boxer ‘Tank’ Davis!!

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Boxing superstar Adrian Broner and his friend Gervontae ‘Tank’ Davis are two of the biggest names in the sport of boxing. But the two now have people talking – after a video of them in the club as leaked.

The video, which was initially posted by Adrian Broner – appears to show the two men go to KISS EACH OTHER ON THE MOUTH. Because of the  quality of the video, it’s not clear whether the two boxers LIPS TOUCHED.

Here is the video:

The video was taken while the two spent the evening at a strip club. Both men appear to have been drinking when the video was taken.

Almost immediately, fans of Adrien Broner began asking what was up with the video. Adrian told fans that he and Tank were just “playing around.”

TMZ also reports that the two men broke up a fight the same night. They said that:

Boxing champ Gervonta Davis(20-0) played peacemaker in a strip club fist fight … diving in between punches to separate two guys — and TMZ Sportshas the footage.

It all went down outside V Live Dallas — one of the top strip clubs in the country — where stars like Davis and Adrien Bronerwere partying earlier that evening. But,as Davis was leaving the club, two guys decided to throw down in the parking lot — things got violent, quick.

That’s when Davis — the reigning WBA super featherweight champ — RACED over to the melee and pushed his way in between the brawlers to try and end things asap. One of the guys definitely got hit in the face hard — but Davis essentially put a stop to the fight. V Live’s owner, Damon Cobbs, tells us no one was hurt, and he’s happy his security prevented the incident from escalating.

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Obama’s “Gay Lover” Breaks His Silence!

A gay man’s feelings have been hurt.

Larry Sinclair says he had a drug-induced sexual affair with a married Barack Obama, and no one seems to care, while Stormy Daniels has become a household name for allegedly having sex with Donald Trump.

Sinclair revealed that he and Obama hooked up for a steamy two-day love affair back in 1999, when Obama was a member of the Illinois State Senate.

He doesn’t understand why the media is all but ignoring his affair with Obama, while at the same time focusing so much attention on Daniels, the porn star who claims she got down and dirty with Trump in 2006, not long after he had married Melania.

“Stormy Daniels is being pimped and pimping the media now and it’s lining her pockets,” Sinclair told The Washington Examiner. “I believe she had sex with him. Do I believe she’s trying to twist and add to it to benefit her interests? You’re damn right I do.”

So, why all the attention on Daniels, while all but ignoring Obama’s alleged GAY affair and drug use?

Sinclair was wondering the same:

“I find this whole double standard sickening, and no I am not a bigger supporter of Trump, but I am a supporter of fair and unbiased media coverage.”

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Atlanta Woman Claims That Her Downlow HUSBAND Contracted HIV . . . Look What She Did As REVENGE!!

An Atlanta woman claims that her 54 year old husband has been living a double life, as a downlow Black man – so she TOOK THE LAW INTO HER OWN HANDS – and got revenge.

The wife, who we are not naming names, decided to destroy her husband’s most LOVED POSSESSION – his brand new Camaro.

The wife wrote the following on the car – with a white permanent marker:

“HIV Positive”

“Living On The Downlow”

“This was my husband, soon to have a divorce.”

“HIV Negative Luckily God protected me”

The car was parked in the PARKING LOT to the couples Atlanta apartment. As you can imagine, all of their neighbors saw this.

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Joy Reid Blames Bizarre ‘Hack’ For Homophobic Posts — And Now They’re Gone!

MSNBC’s Joy Reid claimed on Monday that homophobic content from her old blog was “fabricated” by outside sources and added to the site after she shut it down, with all the content mysteriously disappearing from internet archives.

Mediaite reported last December that Reid had posted a series of anti-gay articles on her blog, the Reid Report, and Reid offered an apology via Facebook shortly thereafter, taking full responsibility for them.

This note is my apology to all who are disappointed by the content of blogs I wrote a decade ago, for which my choice of words and tone have legitimately been criticized. As a writer, I pride myself on a facility with language — an economy of words or at least some wisdom in the selection. However, that clearly has not always been the case.

But Twitter user @Jamie_Maz recently unearthed several more of the posts, and each one appeared to be worse than the last.

Thread – 1/x Joy Reid’s homophobic blog posts were far worse than 1st reported. They also had nothing to do with Republican hypocrisy on gay marriage. Joy also opposed gay marriage at the time. She gleefully accused people of being gay and posted a number of questionable things. pic.twitter.com/ZloivXczTS — Not a bot (@Jamie_Maz) April 18, 2018

2/x Top 5 “totally not gay celebrities of the year”. Using your media platform to out people you think is gay to get clicks has nothing to do with Republicans hypocrisy on gay marriage. pic.twitter.com/0B921itHkj — Not a bot (@Jamie_Maz) April 18, 2018

3/x Joy writes that @karlrove is known as Miss Piggy in Washington DC’s gay circles. Claims he is a leader of the gay Republican mafia. Joy re-posted this “reidblog classics” at the end of the year for her readers’ enjoyment. pic.twitter.com/mFTvApK0VX — Not a bot (@Jamie_Maz) April 18, 2018

But then @Jamie_Maz noticed something even more disturbing: the links to the blog were disappearing from the internet archive site The Wayback Machine.

7/x in the last few months the site was removed from the Wayback Machine on Internet Archive at the request of whoever controls the blog, from what I understand. These screenshots were taken before it came downhttps://t.co/5bxkkYLGR6 pic.twitter.com/TFk2vv48Xk — Not a bot (@Jamie_Maz) April 18, 2018

Wow, the @internetarchive is removing documentation of @JoyAnnReid‘s homophobic slurs and insults. https://t.co/4CFH2QfRfN pic.twitter.com/S0dQj2zfaU — Ryan Saavedra (@RealSaavedra) April 24, 2018

Reid provided an updated statement to Mediaite, saying, “Now that the site has been compromised I can state unequivocally that it does not represent the original entries. I hope that whoever corrupted the site recognizes the pain they have caused, not just to me, but to my family and communities that I care deeply about: LGBTQ, immigrants, people of color and other marginalized groups.”

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Hidden gay life of macho hip hop stars!

A former MTV executive reveals a homosexual subculture in an aggressively male business.

trick-trick-deadlee                                  Out and about … US rapper Deadlee is openly gay!

American rap music is an industry ruled by machismo. It is a place where reputations are made by shady pasts, the aura of violence and ultra-masculinity. But now an explosive new book is lifting the lid on one of hip hop’s most unexpected secrets: that many people in the business are gay.

Terrance Dean, a former executive at music channel MTV, has penned a memoir of his life and times in the hip hop industry as a gay man. It is an explosive exposé of a thriving gay subculture in an aggressively male business, where anti-gay lyrics and public homophobia are common.

Perhaps not surprisingly, many in the industry are nervous about the book’s publication this week, fearing that it will expose some of the top black names in music and Hollywood as secretly gay. But Dean said that his memoir was not intended as a way of outing famous people. ‘I was never tempted to name any names. The book is not about outing people. I wrote it so that people realise the industry has a gay subculture and we are part of this music,’ he said.

That gay hip hop subculture certainly seems to be thriving. Dean’s book describes a world where many industry executives and some artists are leading secret gay lives, which are often obvious to everyone but rarely talked about. And, despite using some false names, the book contains enough information so that it will undoubtedly spark off a frenzy of speculation as to who some of the characters are in real life.

For example, Dean describes ‘Lola’, a singer who is a lesbian and had to keep her sexuality secret. And ‘Gus’, a male rap artist who appeared on television in typical ‘gangsta’ style yet hid a secret gay life. Then there are the other hints of big-name celebrities close to the hip hop business who are also gay. They include ‘Lucas’, a married A-list movie star, and ‘Kareem’, a leading sitcom actor.

Dean hopes that by bringing out his book he will allow a leading hip hop figure to come out as gay and thus pave the way for the notoriously homophobic industry to come to terms with its secret side. ‘Within the next year I believe a major artist will come out. They are going to have to be brave but I think they can do it,’ he said.

That is no understatement. Leading hip hop artists such as Eminem, DMX and Ice Cube have all been targeted by gay activists for using homophobic lyrics. One of Eminem’s songs famously included the line: ‘Hate fags? The answer’s yes.’ In his book Dean describes a world in which hip hop stars and executives often berate and denigrate homosexuals, and the use of the word ‘faggot’ is common place. He says that too often he let such abuse pass by, and writing a memoir was a way of making up for that. ‘I am a part of this culture. I was getting by, saying it’s OK when those things are said. But then I realised they are actually talking about me too,’ Dean said.

There are signs that things are changing. Several leading rap artists, including top seller Kanye West, have admitted that homophobia is rampant in the industry and they have spoken out against it. West had previously spoken out against gay lyrics. There are also a handful of openly gay rappers such as Deadlee, who has held national US tours of his music and appeared on television to talk about his sexuality.

Dean, however, hopes that hip hop will soon put its homophobia behind it. He says the music changed dramatically from hip hop’s roots in nightclubs and parties to a celebration of urban violence and gang life as ‘gangsta rap’ became the norm. Homophobia grew up alongside that musical shift as most successful artists used songs that idolised guns, drugs and crime. ‘We need to get hip hop back to those party roots and away from the gangsta rap culture,’ he said.

However, Dean’s book shows that heterosexual rappers clearly have no monopoly on tough upbringings. Dean’s book is a searing description of a tough childhood on the streets of Detroit, ironically also the home town of Eminem. His mother was a prostitute addicted to drugs who later contracted HIV.

Dean eventually suffered a childhood sexual assault from a male babysitter and ended up serving jail time in Nashville for stealing a car.

If homophobic rappers are looking for a dubious sense of ‘authenticity’, then they can just as easily find it in Dean’s background as in the most masculine of gangsta rappers. But for Dean his purpose in writing the book was simply to shine a rare light on the most shadowed corner of some of the most popular music in the world.

‘Everyone knows. It is not a secret in that sense. It is just that people do not talk about what goes on in private and who is sleeping with who. Now I hope a mainstream artist will have the courage to soon come out,’ he said.

Rappers’ Rants

· In his single ‘Criminal’ in 2000, Eminem sang: ‘Whether you’re a fag or a lez, Or the homosex, hermaph or a trans-vest, Pants or dress – hate fags? The answer’s yes.’

· In the April 2004 issue of Playboy the American rapper made the point clearly: ‘I don’t like gay people around me, because I’m not comfortable with what their thoughts are.’

· Jamaican rapper Beenie Man’s song ‘Damn’ includes lines such as ‘come to execute all the gays’ which led to the cancellation of several concerts in July 2006.

· American hip hop artist Kanye West spoke out against gay lyrics on MTV in 2004. He told a US magazine he ‘wouldn’t feel comfortable at a gay bar. I wouldn’t go to a gay parade’.

Rowan Walker

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