The Unapologetic Homophobia of ‘Tyler, The Creator’

Aug 31, 2011

The realest moment in Sunday’s MTV Music Video Awards was when Tyler the Creator’s proud mom’s hands rose to the sky as she jumped for joy when she heard her son was the winner of MTV’s Best New Artist award.

Her 20-year-old son, born Tyler Okonma, with origins in Los Angeles’ Ladera Heights (a community on the South-West Side, centered near Slauson and La Cienega Blvd.) got that award because of fan votes.

Tyler the Creator’s Mom at the MTV Music Video Awards Sunday.

But if you consider all the moms who have gay and lesbian teens who come home crying complaining of the bullying they face in schools, or the moms who have lost their young boys because they couldn’t take it anymore, you really wish that MTV executives would’ve never put Tyler the Creator on the ballot for Best New Artist in the first place.

His latest album, "Goblin," uses the word "faggot" and variants of anti-gay lyrics a total of 213 times, according to NME, a music weekly. (Tyler uses the exact words "fag" or "faggot" a total of nine times on "Goblin," according to The Fader).

His use of the word in his music, interviews and on Twitter is so prevalent that after a "red carpet" interview Sunday during the MTV awards pre-show, one of the hosts joked about looking forward to reading Tyler’s homophobic tweets about the interview. (This, of course, after Tyler put the microphone up to the hosts mouth as if he was performing fellatio.)

"I’m not homophobic. I just think ‘faggot’ hits and hurts people. It hits. And ‘gay’ just means you’re stupid. I don’t know, we don’t think about it, we’re just kids. We don’t think about that shit. But I don’t hate gay people. I don’t want anyone to think I’m homophobic," Tyler told NME in an interview earlier this year after the group the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) said it would be "monitoring his lyrics more closely."

"Well, I have gay fans and they don’t really take it offensive, so I don’t know. If it offends you, it offends you," Tyler told MTV News of his gay slurs. "If you call me a n—a, I really don’t care, but that’s just me, personally. Some people might take it the other way; I personally don’t give a sh–."

But regardless of his intent, the words are still problematic.

"Whether or not Tyler the Creator intends to offend gay people is irrelevant. The reality is that anti-gay slurs are harmful," GLAAD’s Kimberley McLeod told "They have the power to fuel intolerance and hostility. It’s an irresponsible message for him to send to his young fans," McLeod continued.

Canadian indie-band, twin-sister duo Tegan and Sara wrote a call to action in May for journalists and colleagues that celebrated Tyler’s music. Their message is one MTV execs should take a look at:

When will misogynistic and homophobic ranting and raving result in meaningful repercussions in the entertainment industry? When will they be treated with the same seriousness as racist and anti-Semitic offenses? While an artist who can barely get a sentence fragment out without using homophobic slurs is celebrated on the cover of every magazine, blog and newspaper, I’m disheartened that any self-respecting human being could stand in support with a message so vile.

Tyler’s response?

H/T to Towleroad