After a year that saw LGBTQ progress aplenty, I wouldn't hesitate to conclude that the commitment of straight allies to vocally support their gay brothers and sisters deserves quite a bit of credit. Like one Catholic rapper from Seattle, for example, who delivered arguably one of the most powerful cases for marriage equality since, like, EVER. “Same Love” by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, featuring Mary Lambert, is now one of five nominees for Best Video with a Social Message for the 2013 MTV Video Music Awards.
Macklemore was joined by other straight allies, such as President Obama, Jay-Z and even some members of the Supreme Court this past year in making brave moves toward recognizing the rights of LGBTQ Americans. Referencing his hip-hop and Catholic ties, he told MTV News that “Same Love” came from personal experience — despite coming from two “stereotypically homophobic communities.” The song was “really a response to so many rappers using the ‘F-word’ and the rampant homophobia that’s in hip-hop, along with our culture in general,” he explained. “There is an epidemic in young people who are discovering their sexuality and are oppressed. … It’s something that I wanted to address for a while and didn't know how to do it.” Well, he nailed it, especially in the visuals for the song, which hit the Web last October.
Directed by Ryan Lewis and Jon Jon Augustavo, the clip starts with the birth of a boy who becomes the subject of the video. Initially, the young boy is seen doing what boys (supposedly) do. He climbs trees with the boys and plays football with Dad in the front yard, as the girls play with dolls and sell lemonade in cute dresses. As Mary Lambert’s beautiful chorus kicks in — “I can’t change/ Even if I tried/ Even if I wanted to” — the boy, now a teen, struggles to keep cool during a game of Spin the Bottle in one scene, and in another stands alone during a partnered slow dance at a school gathering. But the internal struggle doesn't last for long.
Eventually the teen becomes a working young man and takes his boyfriend to meet the parents — yep, the same Mom and Dad who held hands as she joyfully gave birth to a gay (then unknown, obvi) son. The gay couple goes on with life (even as passersby harass them on the streets in one instance) and get married in front of loved ones — including Macklemore himself. The video ends with the married man now aged and ailing in a hospital bed as his same-sex partner holds his hand, repeating the same expression of love that the parents first shared at the beginning of the video.
Throughout the video, Macklemore challenges “a world rooted in hate” by aligning the gay rights struggle with that of civil rights and women’s rights. Only 13 states and Washington, D.C., currently allow same-sex marriage, meaning the other 37 states refuse to recognize that straight couples and same-sex couples share the same love. The country is changing, and — thanks to artists like Macklemore — that includes the world of hip-hop. To join Macklemore and Ryan Lewis in making sure that all love is recognized in the same way, take action below.