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Gay Rappers On ‘Love & Hip Hop’: You’re Blowing It

In his meet-the-cast video for Love & Hip Hop Miami, the latest franchise of the immensely popular series that merges hip-hop culture with the narrative structure of telenovelas, Bobby Lytes claimed despite any suspicions to the contrary, he was not “the typical gay guy.”

At this point in society where by now, if you have a limited view of what a gay/queer man looks like, it is due to your own ignorance, whenever one says they are not the “typical gay guy,” I’m expecting them to say that they have an extra toe, regularly talks to God, Lena Horne, and 2Pac in group chat, or some other indicator that indeed makes them oh so different.

Lytes, however, individualized himself in a way that made him sound not necessarily pedestrian, but not atypical either. “I grew up in some of the roughest parts of Miami,” he explained. “I had to find a type of therapy, and that was music for me. I came from nothing.”

So, he’s like Moonlight with bars? Cool. Lytes, who also happens to be the cousin of the veteran southern rapper and personal favorite, Trina, then made a bold declaration that made clear that bravado is a familial trait: “I can rap. I got bars. I got talent. I got skills.”

In a the competitive world of hip hop, one has to be confident. This is especially true for a gay man trying to thrive in an environment that, while it has made some tangible progress in terms of acceptance, nonetheless, much like the society it reflects, continues to carry the stenches of misogyny along with the homophobia attached to its hip. Unfortunately, based on what we’ve seen thus far from Lytes on LHHM, his storyline is not all that different from what we’ve seen from other gay or bisexual men that have been featured on other franchises.

They gonna love me for my ambition ❤️💛💚💙💜🖤

A post shared by Bobby 💡 Lytes (@bobbylytes) on

Lytes is a rapper, and while his belief that Trina is unsupportive in his dreams of rap stardom is part of his story arc, as it stands now, what we mainly get from Lytes is that he’s combative (likes to throw drinks, curse people out, and so forth) and has a boyfriend that is only now getting used to being out (a legitimate issue for some but nonetheless, trite by now on this show) but has him involved in a love triangle all the same.

This is not the typical gay guy, but it arguably is for this show. This is not a diss to other gay men who have been on the show. No, it really is not.

Many people have lamented about their exhaustion with the “messy queen,” DL dude narratives found on the show. Although I have commended the show for offering more representation of non-white LGBTQSWV than many scripted shows in the past, I can understand the boredom some hold. Even so, it’s Love & Hip Hop. This show has a format where much of the cast on any of its franchises are a big ass mess, so in that instance, everyone is treated the same.

However, what separates some cast members is what they do with the platform they’ve been provided. Whenever an artist – veteran or newbie alike – join the show, they claim to have done so in order to boost their careers. And yet, there are only two artists that have actually used the show to bolster a music career: K. Michelle and Cardi B.

K. Michelle may have talked about her abuse, fought with lots of her co-workers, and continuously cracked jokes, but she was simultaneously releasing music the entire time. She released multiple singles, and by the time she scored a new label deal and was prepping a proper debut, she was adamant about promoting her art. The same can be said of Cardi B. Although she was adamant about never recording on the show itself, she released songs like “Cheap Ass Weave” as her fame grew. She also was shrewd enough to record and release tracks based off of Love & Hip Hop scenes. In one scene, she warned a man she was involved with that “if a girl have beef with me, she gon’ have beef with me foreva.” As The Fader noted in a 2017 profile, when the clip went viral, she turned it into a single.

I’m literally screaming “RAN DOWN ON THAT BITCH TWICE” now because that song is what got me to purchase a free mixtape (I support the arts).

I say this with all of the love in the world: none of the gays I’ve seen shouting and cussing and fighting over trifling men with wayward dicks for our entertainment (or sigh-inducing masochistic viewing) on Love & Hip Hop has made any visible effort to do the same. And considering how hard it is for LGBTQSWV Black artists to breakthrough, why not try when you’re on a show watched by millions week after week? Why? Why? Why?

Perhaps Lytes may seize the moment if he genuinely has the skills he speaks of, but if not, add him to a list of others that have made the same mistake. Then let it be a warning to those who may join the franchise later: Be more like Cardi B with this shit, not Biana. Good luck, beloveds.

Images via Getty.


Michael Arceneaux

Michael Arceneaux writes the “Dearly Beloved” advice column at INTO. He is the New York Times bestselling author of the newly released I Can't Date Jesus from 37 Ink/Atria Books/Simon & Schuster. His work has appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, Rolling Stone, Essence, The Guardian, Mic, and more. Follow him on Twitter.