Macklemore may not have won many headlines at the 2013 MTV Video Music Awards, what with Miley Cyrus twerking on stage and Lady Gaga showing off her near-naked behind, but the rapper gave a performance that solidified him the foremost gay rights advocate in the rap world.
The Seattle rapper and his counterpart Ryan Lewis won the award for “Best Video with a Social Message” for their song “Same Love.” The song equates the quest for equality for gays with the Civil Rights Movement, and calls out the rap world for accepting and even promoting homophobia.
“To watch this song in the last year spread across the world is a testament to what is happening right now in America on the forefront of equality,” said Macklemore while accepting his Moonman statue. “Gay rights are human rights, there is no separation.”
Though the moment may have been overshadowed by some of the racier moments at the MTV VMAs, Macklemore’s performance has resonated in a nation increasingly accepting of the message. Just a little more than a decade ago, the song “Same Love” would have been seen as a risky, potentially career-threatening statement, but today it meets an audience that has generally accepted gay marriage.
Recent polling shows that support for same-sex marriage has been growing steadily, and now a majority of Americans are in favor of these unions.
But Macklemore says more work needs to be done to foster acceptance, especially in rap circles.
“I just wanted to hold myself accountable and hold hip-hop accountable and bring up an issue that was being pushed under the rug,” Macklemore said.
At the VMAs, Macklemore and Ryan Lewis were introduced by Jason Collins, the NBA player who earlier this year became the first male professional athlete to come out during his playing career.
Macklemore has stood up for other civil rights issues as well. In a recent interview with Rolling Stone, he acknowledged that white people need to acknowledge the inherent benefits they are given in society.
But gay rights have been a soft spot for Macklemore. He has spoken about growing up with gay uncles, even mentioning them in the song “Same Love.” Macklemore added that he decided to write the song in March 2012 after reading a story about a gay teenager who committed suicide after relentless bullying.
The song has been a hit for Macklemore. Not only has it earned him awards and garnered more than 70 milllion hits on YouTube, but it’s helped him become the foremost gay rights activist in the rap world today.