Ground Breaking, Black, Gay, Author, Terrance Dean Revisits ‘Hiding In Hip-Hop’

Terrance Dean Revisits His Once Taboo Novel, Hiding In Hip-Hop & Talks New Work In Our Interview

Pioneering author, Terrance Dean was talking about things happening behind closed doors in the entertainment industry, specifically those hidden in closets of Hip-Hop, long before it was en vogue.  Before Empire and singer-songwriters admitting they were bi-sexual, Terrance Dean was writing about it. Years later, Dean now re-introduces his books Hiding in Hip-Hop:  On the Down Low in the Entertainment Industry and Mogul as more and more gay Black men come out in Hip-Hop. For the past six years, Dean has been viewed as the industry ground-breaker on the sensitive topic. He sat down with Parlé to discuss his views on Black gay men in Hip-Hop, the role television has played and what he hopes to see happen in the future. 

Parlé Magazine:
When did you know that you identified yourself as a gay man?
Terrance Dean:
For me, it happened while I was in college. I talk about it in my book, Hiding in Hip-Hop. It was something that I came into knowing and understanding while in high school, but I mistook it as natural feelings that would go away. So I would continue to pray and ask God to take these desires for the same sex away. It wasn’t until I got to college that I realized that I am a gay man.


Parlé: Having a degree in theological studies and being a Ph. D student in religion, do you think you are/were offending God in any way based on your sexual preference?
Terrance Dean:
I will say yes when I was younger, and I didn’t have a theological understanding of what was happening. I didn’t have a theological training nor were the persons who were in the pulpit theological trained to address sexuality. I think that’s one of the biggest issues that we have within all churches which is the inability to discuss sexuality. It is a conversation where some people take the context from the biblical approach from the Old Testament and want to make a theological claim about homosexuality without putting it into context with what was happening during that period in time. This is called historical criticism. The people I was involved with during my formation as a young person in Church were not theological trained, and they did more harm than they did support or nurture. I’m not just talking about sexuality just as someone’s gay or lesbian identity, I’m talking about sexuality overall. How we operate within our bodies, how we perform with our bodies and how we identify with our bodies. Overall, it is just a taboo subject within the Church.


Parlé: Do you think religious figures are afraid of talking about the topic of sexuality?
Terrance Dean:
I think we are just afraid to have conversations around our body’s period. There’s this shaming of the body and disgust with the body. Think about how we have to cover up our bodies to protect our bodies from some informal identity or informal understanding of what we do with our sexuality; how do we perform in sexuality. Sexuality is so fluid and how we perform in our sexuality and how we have sex and who we have sex with becomes a taboo topic. So those are conversations that are hush-hush. This is why we are being plagued with HIV, which is on the rise predominately within the Black community. HIV is also the number one concern in South Africa. It is because of something around blackness and around black bodies that we are afraid to have these conversations. We can even go back to slavery. Just the objectification of black bodies by whiteness. The white gaze on black bodies has always made the black body seem as though it was negative and it was something derogatory. That it is something to be ashamed of. We have not learned yet to embrace our own blackness and embrace our own bodies and appreciate the nakedness of it.

Terrance Dean Mogul book cover

Parlé: How much push back did you receive for writing?
Terrance Dean:
  Essentially, the media and a lot of persons ran with the title and the description when they first heard about the book. I remember very vividly when I was first preparing to write the book, the publisher just put out a description of what the book was about and people just ran with the description and the title. They assumed what the book was about and had created a conversation and dialogue around a book that had not been written yet. So, of course, people were pushing back because of one they didn’t want to think of the possible idea of someone being gay in Hip-Hop. Secondly, I think the conversation has always been around machismo and who gets the say and who gets to have a privileged voice in Hip-Hop. You in Hip-Hop, unfortunately, it is a male point-of-view, a male’s voice that is always dominate. It is always an aggressive Black male’s voice that we have been hearing. Yes, the push back came out for the book. People weren’t anticipating the fact that I didn’t name names, that the book was not what people thought it was going to be, and it turned out to be an actual memoir of my story as a Black gay man in the entertainment industry who just happened to have friends and relationships with people who were artists or celebrities. Had I been in law enforcement or Corporate America, it would have been a different book, but very similar in theme. I think the taboo subject around Hip-Hop made it that much more enticing. I am grateful for people who read the book, as opposed to reading the description and decided, “Oh let me give the book a chance” and realized this is a great book. This is a book that I feel is about overcoming, striving, redemption, hope, and love.


Parlé: What advice would you have to give someone in Miles and Milan shoes from Love and Hip-Hop: LA?
Terrance Dean:  Milan, I think that it was unfair to force him to come out when he was not ready. I would give the same advice to Miles and say that you can’t allow someone to force you to come out when you’re not ready to. It is a process and you have to accept who you are first. You have to come into your own terms around your own sexuality and who you are before you can go out and profess this to the world. An example is the boxer, Yusaf Mack. So many men are forced to live these lives because they have to make a choice because others want to out them in their choice, and they are not in the position to do that. I think we have to allow the grace, patience and opportunity to come into it. It is a very long and tedious process because you have to accept it yourself first. A lot of us are in denial because in societal terms, it is not the norm.  You do have to accept it, and then you do the gradual process of letting immediate loved ones, family, and friends know. Wish Miles would’ve taken his time. I’m glad that he was in therapy and he did it with a therapist, which is something I recommend for anyone, but he should’ve taken his time. Milan should not have forced him to do so.

Terrance Dean Hiding In Hip Hop

Parlé: What would you like to see happen in the future concerning Hip-Hop and gay men?
Terrance Dean:  I would love to see an embracing and alliance take place. I think that is one of the things we haven’t gotten to. I think everyone just wants to say, “well there are gay people in Hip-Hop and there are gay men in Hip-Hop, and we should just go ahead and make a way for them.” I think we have to create allies and to create allies that means that people will have to be in a conversation. There also needs to be a relationship, and I don’t mean an intimate relationship, I’m talking about a fraternal relationship with the LGBT community. I think it would be a great service for record labels and executives to start having conversations and open dialogue with those in the LGBT community. Some artists can have an LGBT person on their record. They know that this person is dope, they can spit, and they are good and this can help introduce others into the main stream of America. We see that happen all the time where people are ushered in by someone else as almost like an endorsement. I believe an alliance needs to take place. There are a lot of amazing, talented and gifted persons who can do so much and the world may not ever hear or see them.


Parlé:  What can we expect from you in the future?
Terrance Dean:  I’m such an advocate for allowing spaces for our voices and allowing spaces for visibility for us to exist and also to be in engagement at the table of all these conversations. Don’t get me wrong, I love what Mona Scott-Young and VH1 did with Out in Hip-Hop, but I do want to raise some suspicions and concerns. As much as we want to rally around what they did, it took a heteronormative person, or someone who identifies as heteronormative, to create the space for Black gay men to have voices on a national platform and I thought that was unfair. We already had a platform, and we have already been talking to these persons in our communities. People such as Emil Wilbekin and Pastor Kevin Taylor, who were on the panel and represented, but people such as Keith Boykin, who is an avid activist and working for a number of years, was not represented. I don’t want to discredit what Mona and VH1 did. However, we in the Black gay community have to start taking up our own voices, celebrating our own selves and uplifting who we are. We need to have these conversations on television and radio. We have access to all of these mediums, so we don’t have to wait for someone heteronormative to come along and validate us. That is one of the problems I had; I don’t need you to validate me by saying “oh well there’s a missing voice here, let me go ahead and include you.” That show was not long enough to have a conversation about Black gay men.

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Natalee Langley

Natalee Langley is a graduate of Hampton University, class of 2012. She has an undergraduate degree in Broadcast Journalism and always had a passion for writing. The Harlem, NY native enjoys traveling, reading and learning new languages. She is currently enrolled in courses to learn Mandarin (Chinese). Natalee also has a Masters degree in Management with a concentration in Marketing from Strayer University. This only child loves being around family and sharing great moments with them. Cooking is another huge passion of hers. Her friends can always depend on her to have something new and delicious waiting for them when they come over.

Natalee Langley has 23 posts and counting. See all posts by Natalee Langley


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