HIDING IN HIP HOP: ON THE DOWN LOW IN THE ENTERTAINMENT INDUSTRY – FROM MUSIC TO HOLLYWOOD by Terrance Dean (Atria), 305 pages, $26.99 cloth. Rating: NNN
Big Daddy Kane notoriously uttered, “Ain’t no half-steppin’,” as a way of life in hip-hop. It’s the best way to operate in this aggressive subculture – except for gays thinking of coming out.
In Hiding In Hip Hop, Terrance Dean, a former writer and film/TV production coordinator, pours his soul out as he details the dimensions of African-American and -Canadian gay male oppression.
A bright student who hustles his way into MTV, Disney and various other entertainment enclaves, the bisexual is introduced into the super-secret society of homosexuals in the music and film industry. Soon a wild world of eroticism consumes him. Stories abound of cautious connections becoming steamy encounters.
Dean describes the complexities of maintaining a heterosexual facade while trying to satisfy a gay soul’s desire for companionship, offering plenty of specifics. Many will relate to his inner turmoil, and particularly the way family and church fail to offer safe havens. He depicts black churches as extremely homophobic, with ministers who have no compunctions about spewing hate and ignorance.
Never fully outing any celebrity, Dean peppers his book with statistics and vague facts as clues. For instance, he suggests that the man in a male/female R&B duo with a smash single, discovered and produced by one of hip-hop’s premier East Coast producers, is a closeted gay. He also writes about a founding pioneer of hip-hop who calls him for sexual encounters.
Dealing with his suicide attempts, family members dying of AIDS, a promiscuous and emotionally unavailable sex-worker mother on top of his homosexuality, Dean documents his experiences with adversity and how he survived on a roller coaster of personal and professional successes.
Dean laments that the world is not yet ready to face the truth about black gay/lesbian celebrities’ sexuality. With this book, however, he definitely sparks the much-needed conversation about gays inside the hip-hop nation.