[INTERVIEW] ‘Gay Is Okay’ Rapper Adair Lion Aims To Change Hip-Hop’s Reputation

Photo: Adair Lion.

Just this week, rapper Jay-Z came out in support of President Barack Obama’s pro-same sex marriage stance, with T.I. and others doing the same soon thereafter. Is the hip-hop community starting to shift on gay rights? MTV Act’s Alexandra Govere sat down with young rapper Adair Lion to find out more about his pro-LGBT stance — a point of view he’s held years before Obama’s announcement — and his song catching everyone’s attention, “Ben.” 

Rapper Adair Lion thinks it’s time for a change. After his best friend came out to him in college, he began to wonder why so many of his hip-hop idols bash homosexuality in their music, and how their words have impacted LGBT youth. In his song “Ben,” which sample’s Michael Jackson’s 1972 hit of the same name, Adair attempts to undo the damage done by rappers past by sharing his acceptance of the LGBT community.

“It doesn’t just get better, it gets awesome, homie. What I mean is I just wanna see you blossom, homie,” Adair raps in reference to the It Gets Better Project. Although songs such as Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way” celebrate the LGBT community, Adair’s “Ben” is one of the first we’ve encountered that comes right out and says it: “Gay Is Okay!”

We caught up with Adair in L.A., where he gave us all the deets on his song, his upcoming album, and why he doesn’t eat meat. (Good thing I didn’t show up with burgers, which I planned on, but decided against at the last minute!)

ACT: What inspired your pro-LGBT song “Ben”?

ADAIR: My best friend came out to me when we were sophomores in college. When I saw his It Gets Better video, it touched me. It made me want to help things get better for other LGBT youth.

ACT: Were you afraid to talk about something that’s not really being discussed in rap music?

ADAIR: In the hip-hop world, it’s almost become cool to use terms like “faggot,” “queer,” “homo,” and “gay” in a derogatory manner. I felt it was time to show people that not every rapper feels that way. I was kind of afraid of how some people would react to my song, but ultimately, I wanted to say that being gay isn’t an issue in my world, and that I accept people no matter their sexual preferences.

ACT: Do you have any other socially conscious songs?

ADAIR: Yeah! I have a song called “Am I Dreaming,” about undocumented kids that come into the U.S. Being a Latino and supporting the DREAM Act (Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors), immigration is a really sensitive subject that hits so close to home.

ACT: What’s next for you, and what’s your ultimate goal, musically?

ADAIR: My album, Michael & Me, drops on June 25th, and I hope that one day, I can fill my grandma’s living room with little brass record players.

ACT: If you could collaborate with one artist, alive or dead, who would it be?

ADAIR: Definitely Michael Jackson!  It would be cool to know him when he was my color.

ACT: Ha! You’re vegan, right? Why? I tried to be a vegetarian once…I started at breakfast, but was back on bacon before lunchtime!

ADAIR: I watched Forks Over Knives…don’t watch it unless you are ready to be vegan.

ACT: I know it’s bad, but I’m almost afraid to watch stuff that will scare me out of eating the foods I love…most of which are extremely bad for me. Lastly, I’ve gotta ask you: What’s the secret to your long, luxurious hair. Seriously. Curly-haired girls like me NEED to know.

ADAIR: The secret is that I don’t spray it, curl it, straighten it, NOTHIN’! The secret is just let it be natural…

Adair’s secret holds true for a lot more than just hair. Whether you’re gay or straight, black or white, rich or poor, mermaid or merman, it’s important to accept and be proud of who we are, naturally. Adair ends “Ben” with a poignant statement about same-sex marriage:

“Coincidentally, Ben is the name of someone I’ve never met: My dad. So why would I judge someone who’s trying to be two of what I never had?”

+ WATCH: Adair Lion “Ben

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