If you know anything about Hip Hop in the LGBT community, then you should know Medino Green is no newbie to true Out Hip-Hop fans. With several successful mixtapes including his up-and-coming mixtape “KiNG MiDAS” under his belt. Medino Green is taking the LGBTQ rap game by storm. I’ve been a fan since I met him via Instagram about a year ago. He’s been nothing but gracious ever since and always a true gent.
With over five years in the LGBTQ music Out Hip-Hop movement, Medino Green is here to stay. LEGENDARY musician with a sense of fashion and an edgy New York spit game that will leave you shooked.
If you weren’t a fan before reading this interview, I promise you, after this exclusive, you will become a fan.
What does being gay and of color means to you?
To me being gay and of color means a lot of things, to me anyway! Just me being proud of being who I am, what I am, what I’ve become, what I’ve accomplished thus far. When you look at this question from another perspective, it’s almost like one of those black & white questions. Being gay and then being colored on top of that there are already two strikes against you. Being a gay male of color that’s all three strikes! [lol]. What it means to me overall it’s tough to break down.
Let’s start off this interview speaking about your upbringing. Where were you born and where do you reside currently?
(Starts singing) I was born, by the river! [lol]. I was born in Orangeburg South Carolina, and I moved to Queens New York at a very young age as far back as I can remember. I currently live in Boston now.
Growing up at what age did you know you wanted to become a rapper?
When I was younger, I wanted to become a lawyer, that’s what I told my Grandmother (before she passed). I was inspired, by Thurgood Marshall; during a Black history month play I chose to be him, and I learned a lot. It made me want to follow in his footsteps. At the same time, I found myself in tune with dance and music. If you gave me a microphone I was gon’ sing and dance until you told me to stop! Eventually “becoming a lawyer” mentality faded and I just continued to express myself thru music. By the time I was about 13 I just started writing. I wasn’t always Medino Green. I started off with the name “J-Teflon.” Eventually, the Medino Green name came along, and the rest is history. I didn’t come out as an “openly gay rapper” until I was about 18/19.
What was your experience as far as being a gay man and trying to become a rapper?
At first, it wasn’t even a thing (in my world). I’ve never heard of rappers being gay or anything like that, of course in the music they taunted each other but it never really meant anything. I just told myself if I became that famous. I’d stay single, or my life would be extremely private. None of the people around me really knew I was gay, hell I didn’t even know I was gay. I just thought it was a phase that will pass eventually. My childhood best friend he knew. Time passed, and the cat was out of the bag, I had met someone in the industry that was openly gay, and that was like a breath of fresh air. He introduced me to other people in the industry that was also apart of the LGBTQ community as well. It was like the realms of a new world open up right before my eyes. Who they were, what they stood for, what they were doing was everything I wanted to be apart of. So I made that decision to come out to my friends and family. (Which didn’t go well) but it gave me a piece of mind with who I wanted to to be.
Would you say this is your dream career?
My goal was to become just a rapper, I’ve said this a million times, and I’ve been saying this for years. I’m just a rapper that happens to be gay. Being a gay rapper just requires much more maintenance [lol].
Do you remember the lyrics to the very first song you’ve ever written? If so, could you share it with us?
[lol] Yes I do! The very first time I queened out on a track was a freestyle I did to JR Writers ‘Grill ‘Em’. I didn’t know who I was, what I was selling or anything I just started talking shit!
“They heard something about Green got these rap niggas nervous, swag so mean and I do this shit on purpose/ stepping on the scene got these motherfuckers hurting, picture me nude and them boys start jerking/ laugh when they shit flop, headed to the tippy top, sex game ill leave a motherfucker dick rock/ hand on my waist right, hair in his hand tight, all up in my ear like that’s yo’ muthafucking dick right?”/ I didn’t know what to say! I just jumped right out the window sounds like a power bottom [lol].
Two months ago, you released your latest single Butch Queen pt.2. Would you define yourself as a butch queen?
I don’t know if I want to define myself as a “Butch Queen.” I do know that I have some soft facial features that would void this argument. The reason I wouldn’t put that label on myself is that when I go out to events and clubs, I’m very observant and I notice the guys around me are a lot more feminine, the way they walk, talk, dress, etc. that’s not me. Even the ones that dress like “boys” they still have a lot of those feminine qualities that I don’t have, however, I will say that I do cut up with my Friends from time to time. I am guilty of that.
What made you decide to make a part 2, two years after releasing the original track over the chiraq beat?
I probably shouldn’t be revealing this but fuck it! That verse was actually for another instrumental. I was just playing around with it on different beats, and it actually fit the Chiraq beat perfectly. It wasn’t my intentions to make a part 2, and it just made itself. Like all good music should!
Being native of Queens, New York. What are your view’s on other New York rappers, who also happens to be openly gay?
AH-HA! This is where the shade comes in. My views on gay rappers from New York… a lot of that shit needs to stop. Straight up. It almost feels like there’s a mockery being made of hip-hop. In my opinion, these gay men just wake up one morning and say “I’m gonna be the first gay rapper!” No. I think a lot of them need validation and seek popularity, so they try to become a “gay version” of their favorite female rapper, and it looks/sounds ridiculous. They don’t even have legit friends to tell them that what they are doing is a bad idea but I also know what it’s like to get support from your friends. I remember when all gay men did was dance, do makeup, and do hair. Now they wanna rap. *rolling eyes* it’s hard enough to get in the industry and have people take what we’re doing seriously. You want to come out here with your face beat to capacity, your mother’s old Coach™ bag jewelry from Forever21™ (I totally get the freedom of expression and image comfortability) and you talking stashing guns and killing people?! Ain’t nobody going to take you seriously. If anything everything you’re doing is going to set us back even more.
What are your views on New York rappers in mainstream music?
I think New York is trying to make a comeback with music. We have a lot of dope artist coming out of the Big Apple, and I think that’s a beautiful thing we definitely need that especially with the sh** I hear these days.
You just released your latest mixtape, “M23 The Mixtape” what type of feedback have you gotten so far?
#M23 was defiantly a bit of a game changer for me as an artist. With over 550+ (and counting) downloads now I’m asking myself ok what’s next? The feedback has been incredible, and people are still discovering it until this day streams are are going up and up each day and I’m proud of it. There weren’t any visuals for it, I did shoot a video, but that video was supposed to be scrapped and shot over I just never got around to reshoot it. The mixtape itself was pushed back 5 and a half months from its actual release date. Which was a bit of a disappoint to me and those around me. We made it work.
What inspires you when it comes to making music?
Inspiration comes in everyday situations. I talk about a lot that I’ve encountered with, what I’ve witnessed. Relationships, emotions, fashions, sex, everything, just some of it tho! The real good sh** I’m gon’ have to charge for that!
What defines you as an openly gay rapper?
I don’t even think it has anything to do with being gay at this point. I think it’s just me owning my freedom to say whatever the hell I want, when I want, how I want and not feel ashamed or uncomfortable with that. If you show timidness, your confidence will never show. If your confidence never shows how can you define who you are? How can you prove to people who you are? You can’t.
Currently, you’re working on releasing a brand new mixtape “KiNG MiDAS” 13 tracks will be on the mixtape. Could you tell the fans some tea on this up and coming project?
This mixtape will consist of original work I’ve been working on. The writing process is just about done with 2 to 3 songs to write && I’m beginning my recording process. I chose the title that had a meaning that I felt defined me at this point with my music. Everything I touch is dope (Gold). There is also an EP in the talks along with possibly a part 2 to King Midas (The Midas Touch) It all depends on how well the people react to my music. Good music brings happy fans, and happy fans bring good music!
If you could list your top 5 favorite songs, you’ve done to date, which ones would make a list?
*drakes voice* top 5 top 5 top 5 umm I would have to say.
Good Dick pt.2 feat. Bry’Nt
Back In The Day (The 4 wall project)
In My Bag (Off my new mixtape)
When I See him (Freestyle)
Nicki Minaj is also a Queens native. You did a freestyle to one of her songs, “looking ass nigga.” Would you say she’s an influence on your music?
I like Nicki, and I’m not a barb tho. I like her girl from around the way attitude, and it’s a Queens thing. I would say she’s on the list of influences but not at the very top you know what I mean? It’s not me being shady or anything like that I just take a spoonful of each artist that influence me.
Three years ago, you released an album titled “The 4 Wall Project.” What inspired you to title the album?
The 4 Wall Project actually came out 5yrs ago on September 11th, 2011. That mixtape was like having a baby and giving it up for adoption and then running into it as years pass and being proud of the progress it’s made, over time. (I know that’s a bit much). #T4WP was music that kind of went over people’s head. At the time I was young going the F*** thru life. One of the biggest challenges I had was that I lost the studio I was recording in, so a lot of the music on there was actually recorded in a closet. (No pun intended). Before that, I had lost my grandmother, and I had just got out of an unhealthy relationship it was just a lot to cope with being so young and still trying to find myself in the process. The title just came to me from isolating myself from people just staying in and staring at the same 4 walls.
Tell us, what would be the most significant record you’ve written to date? Your best work of all?
I would have to say UNITY is probably my best piece of work to date. The song has a message, It really touches on a serious topic, and It speaks volumes. It should be like the pledge of allegiance to gay men globally.
When it comes to your fan-base, do you know what the listeners are looking for when you go to record new music?
I think my fans just want me to continue to collect these wigs one by one [Laugh Out Loud]. All jokes aside I think they just want creativity and consistency. Break the mold of what a “Gay Rapper” should be, the expectation is high, but I bring it every time!
I recently noticed that you were trying to promote your live show on Grindr. Most of the guys were trying to hook up with you. Do you deal with guys constantly throwing themselves at you? Not knowing you for you but just because you’re a “rapper?”
I don’t think none of my only profiles have that I’m a rapper in it, only because we all know don’t nobody read those shits. It could say I’m the president of the United States nobody would care, they just care about the face and body in the photo. I will say it is hard to find genuine people online because we usually know what their intentions are from the door. I just have mine to pass the time and for entertainment purposes but I don’t get too attached. I don’t even reveal who I am to people if they don’t already know. Only because that process of giving a whole backstory, and reintroducing, who you are to people becomes tiring. You gotta watch what you say, how you say it. You can’t be too freaky and send pics/videos because they might leak in the long run, it’s too much. For the people that do know who I am and try to talk to me, I think they just do it to see if they’re going to get a response. A lot of times you give someone your number online they don’t even use it after 48hrs. As soon as your face starts popping up all over the place and they see that, that’s when you start getting those texts back I know this process so well. And not for nothing a lot of these niggas on social media are corny. I had one text me happy birthday for no reason and then say his reasoning was to see if I would still reply to him.. meatball ass nigga, lose my number.
What would you say separates your music from other openly gay rappers?
That line of separation comes with content. You can listen to what they’re saying, then listen to what I’m saying. What I bring to the table is what’s missing as far as hip-hop goes. I don’t follow the trends, and I don’t follow the crowds I do me. Meanwhile, everybody else is sounding like everybody else you can’t separate that.
What’s something you would like to tell the readers, who haven’t heard your music before, about yourself as an artist?
If you haven’t heard any of my music before, then you have defiantly been cheating your music library. Medino Green as a hip-hop artist embodies your expectations of what an openly gay male rapper should sound like. Nothing more, nothing less.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years from now?
10yrs from now I hope my music is inspiring for some little boy who feels entirely out of place when some throw him a football, Feeling internally conflicted about what’s right and what feels right. 10yrs from now tho! I got a long way to go!
Do you remember the very first song you recorded?
The very first song I’ve ever recorded was called “Close My Eyes” with a group of dudes I knew from around the way at a Bronx studio by GunHill projects.
What does hip hop mean to you, outside of your sexuality?
To me, Hip-Hop means Freedom of speech. It means my story, my struggle, my ups, downs. My good, my bad, my happy, my sad. My piece of mind, my alone time, my mental escape, my home away from home. My joy, my controversy, my trend, my everything!
Do you see yourself staying indie or signing to a label anytime soon?
I will stay indie for the most part. Signing with a label will put a Machine behind me. That machine doesn’t run for free it runs on money lol. Money that I’ll have to give to keep that machine going.
What’s been the biggest obstacle you’ve faced as an openly gay rapper?
My biggest obstacles have just been trying to get people hip to who I am. Getting DJ’s to play my music in clubs so people can become familiar with who I am. It’s tough. Sometimes you think because you have some type of relationship with someone that they would be willing to help you out, that’s not always the case. People don’t have your best interest until they see other people taking an interest. Sad but true.
Being openly gay, and a rapper, have you encountered any homophobia? Could you describe some discrimination you’ve faced in the industry?
Believe it or not, so far I have not been gay bashed or anything like that surprisingly. I know of an artist that has received it, and this goes back to that line of content being separated, what it is that they are doing it’s not applauding. I’m sure when I expand much more there will be a lot of naysayers, but these are people with no talent and a mattress on the floor.
Before starting your rap career, who would you say in LGBT music influenced you?
It wasn’t that many to influence me from the gate [Laugh Out Loud]. I listened to lastO, Bone Intell, Bry’Nt. Those were the guys I listened to coming into the game.
What’s one piece of advice somebody in the industry gave you, that you have kept, and continuously think about even to this day?
I got advice from Lady Luck while we were in the studio she told me “do you, daddy, do what makes you feel good as the artist.” I’ve held on to that ever since.
If you weren’t focusing on music, which other career fields would you chase after?
If not music.. I don’t think I’d be doing anything else. I don’t think I’d make a good actor or athlete so I’d be a regular dude will a wicked shoe game. [Laugh Out Loud]
Have you come across any negative feedback from other gay men?
The only negative feedback I get from gay men is that a lot of them don’t listen to gay rappers because of what is surfacing and going viral online. They already have it in their mind what a gay rapper sounds like, and that’s the sad part. People like myself that actually have the talent get overshadowed by the shit people are making fun of, and then it just looks another one in the bunch. Another thing I’ve noticed is that a lot of gay men use the excuse “I don’t listen to rap music like that” but idolize these female rappers, as a man you can’t relate to nothing these women are saying. You can relate to someone who’s been thru what you’ve been thru and can tell your story so why not support and root for them?
Do you feel that hip-hop will ever become gay-friendly?
What keeps you motivated as an openly gay artist, in a community like hip-hop that’s very anti-gay?
I know there’s hope for a gay male rapper. If they opened arms to 2 openly gay female rappers why not open it to a male? Is it because they haven’t seen/heard one actually SPIT? Maybe, gay male rappers want to sound like females and females want to sound like males, hip-hop is a male-dominated game, you have to be aggressive. Be aggressive to get that attention you want, once you get that, do what you want. I know the expectations of what I’m bringing to the table maybe low in their eyes because of misrepresentation, but I can change all that. There’s a few that can change all that. I don’t think hip-hop is anti-gay. I think it’s anti weak. If you been rocking diamonds all you’re life, you’ll know cubic zirconia when you see it.
When rappers use terms like fag and faggot in their lyrical content, how does that make you feel? Whether if you’re a fan of their work or not?
To me FAG, Faggot is just another word in the book. Just like Nigga, and Bitch all of which defines someone’s characteristics. Black people and women. I do use it from time to time when I rap and someone might tell me that’s super insensitive, but it’s ok to use the N word and the B word? That is something I will never be able to wrap my head around so I don’t even bother but It doesn’t make me feel anyway type of way.
If you could work with any mainstream artist in the hip-hop community, who would you name in the top 10 on your list?
Ten rappers I would want to work with? Ummm ok here goes!
LL Cool J
Do you think the gay community doesn’t support our LGBT musicians? Rather stan for mainstream rappers?
I don’t think, I know that’s a fact. I see people who’ll spend $200+ to see an artist on a screen (because they’re too far back) but won’t go and pay $10 to see an artist face to face. People like that I don’t associate with, period.
How do you feel about mainstream rappers, that say “gay rappers” should be embraced but aren’t out pushing for gay rappers to be put on?
This goes back to me saying the vast majority of gay rappers are clowns. Hip-hop is not a circus there is no place for them. If you ever look up the hashtag gay rapper, you’ll find A LOT of shit. The majority of that is upsetting, but then you have the dope ones sprinkled in. By the time you get close to a dope one you did see so many circuses acts, you don’t even want to be entertained, anymore. For those artists that say we need to be embraced, I’m sure they see the same thing. When a mainstream artist is opening that door for that conversation, by the time that conversation is finished their mentions are flooded, with garbage and nobody is going to take the time to sort thru that. I don’t knock anybody that has confidence but be honest to yourself and know what’s for you and what’s not for you and understand how much of a mess and setback for others you’re creating. Just because you know how to structure a house doesn’t mean you can build a village!
Do you think, they think the white community, would be more embracing vs. the black community when it comes to supporting an openly gay rapper?
I don’t even want to sound racist but white people are just more accepting and welcoming then blacks. Being black you have to have this hard image and exterior. I don’t think white men have to go thru that. They go thru life, and they grow Thur life just being themselves there’s no pressure on how they should look, how they should act, none of that. So it’s more accepting of them to become someone, and the community accepts it because there’s no mold or rulebook for them. Being black and trying to do it is hard as hell.
I reached out to LastO last year for an interview. He kindly declined due to the fact music was no longer a part of his career path. Do you think if nothing happens to your career, Would you throw in the towel or continue to represent the community in hip-hop?
As much as I would love to make music for the rest of my life, if nothing pops off with it, then I will throw in the towel, and I will be happy with any and all accomplishments I’ve made before.
How do you feel about the lack of openly gay LGBT artists?
I don’t think there’s a lack it might be too many [Laugh Out Loud].
Do you feel like a bisexual rapper would be embraced, before an openly gay MC?
No, just because you “like women” won’t take away the fact that you still have a preference for men, doesn’t even matter what type of men, they still gon look at you as gay and that’s facts.
I think it’s evident that there are mainstream rappers, who are gay and in the closet. Do you feel it’s much safer to be down low in hip-hop verse being out?
[Laugh Out Loud] I’m not sure, you might have to ask one of them how that’s working out. It sounds costly to keep that private.
How seriously do you think homophobia is the primary stream hip hop community?
It can’t be that serious, they in our stores wearing our clothes. *Kanye Shrugs*
Do you think hardcore hip-hop listeners would be accepting of queer rap, even if the music industry embraced it?
Absolutely Not. They don’t want to hear a grown man rap about sucking another grown man’s dick. Sometimes even as the artist saying it, that can be a little awkward.
The gay music community is small. If you could pick one artist to break out besides yourself of course, who would you choose?
I would have to say Bry’Nt. He has been in the game longer then I have, and he’s also done A LOT. In my eyes back in 2008 he changed the game for gay men to rap sexually. His first mixtape PornStar 1 was like a lyrical bible to gay men. He touched on a lot of things we go thru to this day, and the music was so ahead of its time. He was the first gay rapper I’ve ever heard of. I was able to relate to what he was saying because I was living that life. He’s still making music to this day, and if anyone deserves it, I think it should be him.
Do you feel as though, gay rappers aren’t taken seriously because most people would assume gay sex would be the topic of their raps?
Content plays a role in this. You have an artist that rap about gay sex and stuff like that and then you have rappers that happen to be gay. The content is entirely different. If all you rap about is fucking and sucking dick, it gets played out, and you get played out. I don’t care who you claim you’re within these raps, niggas in the hood are NOT bumping yo’ shit. Not everybody can relate to gay topics. You need versatility. I stop catering to “gay music” a while ago because they (gay men) don’t even play my shit like that. I make music at this point. I might sprinkle it in every now and again because that’s who I am as a person but I’m not trying to over season the chicken cause won’t anybody eat it!
Besides rapping, what would you consider your biggest hobby and talent?
I don’t have any other hobbies besides shopping [Laugh Out Loud]. I’m a red box and chill type of guy. I’m content with laying up at home watching movies or going to the movies. I don’t have any other talents, nothing that I think is a talent.. besides taking yo’ man [Laugh Out Loud], I’m joking! I use to be able to play the piano when I was younger; now I can’t.
Rap music comes with tons of sounds and waves, how would you describe your rap style, compared to the likes of Drake, Future and so on?
My style is very 90’s flashy, in your face, slap your baby mother, rob you’re baby father mixed with the right hint of sexual content. HAHAHA!!!
If the industry was to embrace gay rappers, which type of artist would you think to be signed first? A feminine gay rapper or more so a masculine one?
Masculine. Hip-Hop is a dominant male industry; even the females had to rap like a boy (masculine) to get seen/heard. I don’t think that aspect will change anytime soon.
How do you feel about gay rappers that do comedy rap in drag to get noticed but bashed for it? Do you think it makes people’s judgment on gay rap as a joke?
I never looked at it like that, but I don’t think it affects rappers that just rap. I mean we know a joke/parody when we see one. As far as them getting bashed people get bashed on the internet all day these days. That’s some people job to sit behind a screen and bash. It’s not paying bills, so I’m not sure why or how they have that much free time. Anything we do doesn’t matter gay or straight because their straight men out here dressing in drag making videos and they get bashed for it, anything you put out into the universe (internet) it will come back with negative feedback of someone bashing you.
If you could work with any LGBT artist of today or past, who would be your top 5 picks?
This is one of those questions that get you in trouble! There’s a couple of rapper’s I’d work with I’m not gon name drop, but for the most part, I tend to stray away from working with (gay rappers). From what I see it’s too many newbies feeling themselves and haven’t even been in the game long enough to get felt out. If you come out sounding cocky talking shit, I’m all set on that collab meaning it’s not happening.
List off ten things you would tell an aspiring rapper in the LGBT community not to do when trying to get on?
Ten things I would tell them NOT to do… that’s a good one.
Don’t come out dissing people. I hate shit like that. Some of these gay rappers be rapping for all of 5 mins talking crazy. You didn’t even pass the 90day window & you’re throwing shots. I’ve witnessed this happened before, an artist (can’t remember their name) DM’d me to check out their music which happened to be a “diss” record to another artist that’s established & I was like nah, that’s not gonna fly & neither will you. Does he still make music to this day? That’s the only thing I can think of; I can’t name ten things NOT to do because there are plenty of things they should be doing.
Thank you for taking time out to do this interview with justbeinganthony.com. Is there anything you want to tell the readers before we end the interview?
Yes! Follow me on IG/SC/Twitter: @MedinoGreen Check out my SoundCloud for all of latest work SoundCloud.com/MedinoGreen and ‘KiNG MiDAS’ the mixtape is dropping real soon!
Rapper QBGINO On Bringing Gay And Straight Rappers Together And More! [Exclusive Interview]
JBA: QBGINO thanks for doing this interview. I know you’re a big-time supporter of mine! Can you please introduce yourself to the readers and tell us the background on how you came up with your artist name?
What’s Good, I’m QBGino all the way from Queens NY. Queens Bridge projects to be exact. That’s where I get the QB in my name from. Over time QB has turned out to mean a lot especially as I explore my vocabulary within rap. Also, Gino is my nickname; I’m Eugene the 3rd, and my dad is actually Gino, so I’m LIL Gino. Well not so LIL anymore [lol].
JBA: You mentioned that you went to GOTHAM professional art academy in Brooklyn NYC for performing arts. What was that experience like for you?
GOTHAM, Was quite an experience. Being that we were the first Class, we started with maybe 40-50 kids, and there was a plethora of talent. From actors and singers to rappers and visual artists, even stand up comedians. Gotham was where I fell in love with Rap music, I used to sit with the boys who beat on the table and rapped at lunch, and I was 14 when I was at that table, and I said to myself I wanna do that. I don’t want just to rap I want to rap better than these dudes!
JBA: You’re open with your sexuality as a rap artist and you can rap just as good as the “straight boys”. You mentioned the fact that you don’t like the term “gay rapper”. Explain to the readers why you feel that way? Also why music of all career paths?
I felt like God wouldn’t turn it off. For a very long time, I was a believer that a gay man can NOT be a big RAP artist. I became filled with a lot of self-doubts and I went through a rough time where I thought I wouldn’t be good enough to rap ‘I’m not like Future, Migos, Drake, NBA Young Boy and all the other hot artist out now. How the hell can I fit in? How can I succeed? However, it felt like no matter how low I got, I couldn’t stop hearing the music, I couldn’t stop writing, I couldn’t stop wanting to rap. I don’t want to be put in a box as like nobody else that’s gay in any industry. I don’t want to be good for a gay guy, I want to be the BEST period.
JBA: You’re from Queens NY but currently reside in Tampa Fl. How was that experience for you from being up north to moving down south as an openly gay rapper?
This was a big change and adjustment. I moved here when I was 23, and I’m 25 now, so it’s been a little while. It was kind of hard to transition here, but I felt it was necessary for my success. As I have gotten older, I have seen how congested NYC is. I felt that a slower pace environment would allow me to shine brighter and hustle smarter. Florida has many social disadvantages, but I’m hoping to be the bridge between gay “rap” and “straight” rap. Florida still has a long way to go when it comes to accepting all, but hopefully, I can spearhead that movement. New York guys are way cuter though.
JBA: In one of my articles, I spoke about how hard it is for many of us to be black and gay. (LINK HERE) In a recent song DOTWAN, you’re lyrics speak of that very issue, “I got 2 strikes now who f*ckin with me/I’m gay, and I’m black now that’s something to see.” What inspired you to write such a powerful song, while involving many of our truths as far as what many of us as black gay men deal with on a daily basis?
I was angry when I wrote that, I was in college, and I was doing a lot of competitions on campus and winning a lot of them but my “Black Straight” counterparts would hate on me so hard to the point where they would talk shit, while I was on stage. Also, It frustrated me so much that the boys (who weren’t even from the hood) couldn’t accept that I was GOOD, good enough to beat them in a show. I had to write something to say you know what it is so HARD being Gay and then I’m black but you know what I’m still going to show you I got this; we go this.
JBA: Do you feel those two strikes are present within the Black LGBT community more than most people would even imagine?
It is so hard for Black gay men because we have to appeal to so many audiences, people are okay with gay people as long as it’s not “too much” or “too feminine”; THAT’S NOT FAIR homosexuality is a normal thing, and it should be normalized not censored or defined. You have to act one way around black people and another way around whites that’s ridiculous, and the gay man has to put on twice as many faces to be accepted in society. For some reason, we like to break everything down to separate ourselves from each other when all in all it’s not that deep. We are all the same shit just with different blessings.
JBA: I just listened to your song Another Day and this song is incredible. What inspired you to record and release this track?
Thank you so much. I literally wrote most of this song in an hour. Honestly, people are always asking for money and when its time to pay back they want “another day” like ALWAYS. So this was just a flexing kind of jam with some real-life hints in it. I’ve been working a lot on pushing my pen and making sure I can give listeners something to think about. I really try to put out music with exceptional lyrics because I want to roll next to the big boys.
JBA: Right now there is a heavy wave of LGBT artists hitting the scene, and many of them are incredibly talented. What are your thoughts about your peers in QUEER rap right now? Also, what would be your advice for those who want to follow in your footsteps?
I got mad love for all the LGBT artist coming out. I hope to work with many of them, and we can all shine together. Any young gay boy that wants to rap I say Love yourself and love your art and don’t let anyone take your happiness and don’t let anyone ever tell you, you can’t do anything. It’s a tough world be tougher.
JBA: At this time with everything that’s happening for the black LGBT community, how do you feel about all these amazing opportunities that are taking place for our community?
I’m so excited to watch our community grow with opportunities and to see the advancement of Black gay and Trans artists. However, I do feel like the world still has a long way to go. As I said before being gay is natural and normal so it should be treated as such and the fight doesn’t end to human rights are worldwide.
JBA: What would you say that separates you from other LGBT artists?
I’m the best rapper if we’re talking about in the community. I haven’t heard anyone with lyrics that compete with mines; now that’s my opinion of course. I’m working on pushing my music to the next level to be the best in the world, but I appreciate all LGBT rappers they all have something special.
JBA: What has been the most challenging experience for you as an artist?
Honestly dealing with social media, I’ve gotten comments on my social media bashing my music, guys telling me I’m ugly, and I’m sometimes a little emotional, so its something I’m still working on overcoming. People can be so mean and when you put your art out there for people to hear they have every right to say what they want, and they use it. We as the artist have to take the good with the bad for every “great job” there is a “that sucks.”
JBA: What motivates you to compete in a very competitive industry especially among the small group of queer artists that are out today?
I’m a Capricorn I live for competition, and I want to be the best at anything I do; I’ve always been like that. I believe hip-hop has fallen to a place where Rappers don’t have to rap; they don’t push their writing skills, and I want to be an artist to help bring that back. I hope soon we won’t be considered as the queer artist and one day it will just happen to be the top RAP artist are gay.
JBA: If you could work with any other LGBT artist(s) who would you choose first and why?
Definitely Taylor Bennett; chance the rappers younger brother. He is so strong and proud and extremely talented. I would love to work with him. I would also love to work with Young MA, Frank Ocean, and Big Freedia.
JBA: With the likes of Jaywill (@callmejaywill) and many other LGBT artists out right now, do you think we will see more artists of LGBT community make it in the mainstream industry?
YES. Gay people have been running things behind the scenes for years now it’s our time to shine, and we are coming.
JBA: What’s one of your favorite moments in your career so far?
Riding in the gay pride parade in Charlotte NC. I didn’t get to Rap, but I stood in the front, and It was the most amazing experience ever.
JBA: Top 5 favorite artists of all time of any genre and why?
NUMBER ONE Nicki Minaj; my favorite artist she gave me the courage to believe I could do anything I want if I work hard enough. She is the Best, the Queen!
Also Panic at the Disco, Ariana Grande, Lil Wayne, and JLo. I look up to all these artists they embody what I aspire to be.
JBA: What’s your favorite song of all the songs you’ve recorded and released?
My favorite would be my song “Work it,” I still remember writing and recording it, I went so hard, and I was very proud. My song “Burn Book” probably had the most impact because it was me standing in who I am and showing that I’m proud of who I am, now watch me Rap.
JBA: Where do you see queer rap in the next ten years?
Queer Rap will be RAP !!! Top Charts!
JBA: Where can the readers find your music and also keep in touch with you?
QBGino is my only handle; it’s for every social media outlet. @QBGINO – Twitter/Facebook/Instagram/Snapchat/Tumblr
All my music is on Soundcloud, and I’m working on a mixtape that will be on all streaming platforms.
Honorable mentions to my first music video, Please check that out:
“Another day” https://soundcloud.com/qbgino/another-day
“What They Want” -https://soundcloud.com/qbgino/what-they-want
“Work it” – https://soundcloud.com/qbgino/work-it
“Burn Book”- https://soundcloud.com/qbgino/burn-book
“Partition Remix” – https://soundcloud.com/qbgino/partitian-remix
“Road Rage”- https://soundcloud.com/qbgino/road-rage
“D.O.T.W.A.N” – https://soundcloud.com/qbgino/d-o-t-w-a-n
Exclusive Interview With Brandon Karson From The Viral Scripted Series #AboutHim
I interviewed Brandon Karson a year ago, and I must say it’s one of my favorite interviews of all time. We spoke about so much stuff from his personal life and also about his break out character Damien of the hit online web series About Him. I thought I’d share this interview with you guys. This man is definitely on the come up, and we definitely will be seeing more of him in the future!
Hello Brandon how are you today? There’s one question, I must ask before we start this interview. What does it mean for you to be black, gay and proud?
It’s quite a big ordeal. To be not just one stereotype but three all in one lifetime (being black, a black male, then being a gay male), it’s one hell of a hurdle to hop. Growing through what I’ve had to go through as a black, gay man has definitely prepared me for the world. Being gay & of color to me means that you’re a survivor. If you were to sit down with any black gay man, no matter who they are, he’s survived something. Strength. Being gay and of color to me means strength.
I love that response, and I truly agree with you. I would consider so many gay men of color as survivors. Many of us have encountered many obstacles in life.
Let’s start off by addressing your current role as Damien on the online hit series “AboutHim.” How did you end up hearing about the role of Damien?
Well, I found out about the casting for this project online actually. At the time, I was without representation, so I did my own research, signed up for some online casting websites and there it was. Once I finally got asked to audition, I missed the first audition…and the second. I was working two other jobs at the time, so time conflict was my middle name at the time.
Wow, this role seems like it’s WRITTEN FOR YOU! Even after missing the auditions, you still ended up with the character.
After finding out that you were officially cast as Damien, what were some of your thoughts at that very moment when you got the big news?
Oh, my God, I was completely shocked. I mean, I didn’t think I was gonna get it actually. My nerves were all over the place during auditions. I’m always like that with auditioning. When I got the call, I was just BLOWN AWAY!
Did you think while filming, and maybe even before getting the role if the show would blow up the way that it did?
Hell no! I mean, I knew we’d touch people but this is literally some next level stuff. I thought this story was relatable so that’s why I fell in love with it…it might be the same reason why people are such big fans of the show. We had really REALLY humble beginnings with the show. Even seeing how far we’ve come makes me tear up because we’re just getting started.
The story is VERY relatable and genuinely needed to be shared. One thing I love about the show is the fact that it’s speaking of a variety of things. I think something many black gay men of color struggle with is our sexuality. So for the show to pinpoint that issue, showed that the viewers related to the storyline.
How has life changed for you since the viral success of About Him?
Tremendously [Laughs Out Loud]. People notice me now…that’s the biggest thing to me most of the time. As a child well into my adolescence, I was quite used to being overlooked or unnoticed. It’s amazing how God places you exactly where you need to be when you need to be there. I love it, all of it. This is the most love I’ve received before in my life. It’s beautiful.
That’s so beautiful! God makes no mistakes when getting us on the right track. Sometimes our stories start off one way and end another. The beauty in that is you’re now somebody and definitely will not be overlooked again.
We’re going to touch more about Damien and the series About Him. Let’s get to know you, Brandon. When did you know that acting was your calling in life?
I was about eleven, maybe twelve years old? I was really big in church and we had this really purpose-driven youth director. She’d force us into just about everything. I would sing solo selection at church and that in turn made her feel like I was ready for the world. [lol]. After seeing how well my brother did with public speaking, she decided to have me follow in his footsteps…the rest is history.
That push helped you, it definitely molded you into the person you are now. How does it feel to chase after your dreams and finally reaching this level of success as a black gay actor?
Honestly, I’m not near as close to where I want to be as it pertains to my dreams and aspirations. This is one hell of an accomplishment. It feels unreal most of the time. I have to remind myself at times. God is real and what he has for you is specifically for YOU. Once you realize that, doors, windows, curtains…everything opens up for you.
I’ve read online that you changed your last name to Karson because of your father didn’t believe that the work you were doing as a gay actor was respectful of the family’s name. I know this is a touchy matter. What piece of advice would you give an up and coming black gay actor, who also may be dealing with a family that may not be supportive?
Continue to research yourself; you deserve to get a deeper understanding of who you are as a person. Never, EVER do things to please the next person. It was my biggest mistake (and still is). Most people don’t necessarily know who they are or where they’re going so you need not look to them for support, become your own damn support.
Very inspirational and true! Sometimes we have to support ourselves and not expect the world to hand us everything. You’re from the south. Do you think southern gay men have it harder coming out than other gay men across the U.S? Being that many southern states are very religious.
I think we all have it hard coming out. All of us, no matter from what standpoint, there’s a hardship within every gay man’s lively hood, I promise you. Aside from that, I do think the south can be a bit more pressed about the situation, only because of fear of the unknown. People fear what they don’t understand, and for some reason in the south, not too many people want to understand change, so they reject it.
Who do you consider to be one of your biggest influences so far in your acting career?
Four people come to mind…Denzel Washington, Viola Davis, Meryl Streep & Will Smith. They all have embodied exactly what it means to take your craft and go to the next level with it. I can appreciate an actor who makes you truly believe the moments captured on screen. Anyone who knows me knows that it’s the four illustrious careers of these amazingly gifted people that truly influenced me to act.
You’re now a famous big-time actor in the LGBT community. How would you describe that feeling? Being a country guy from Louisiana?
Un-REAL! [Laughs Out Loud]. I hate the word “celebrity.” It’s had so many negative connotations tied to it, on top of the fact that everyone nowadays will do anything to become a “celebrity” or “famous”. It’s truly different. It’s not crazy or anything like that, not on Beyonce or Rihanna’s status yet.
I’ve read online that you are in fact a single gent. Damien is a character but as we all know, people can sometimes take films and shows as “reality.” Like even though your name is Brandon, people still will call you Damien. So when being approached by guys, do they approach you wanting to get to know you or just to get a piece of Damien?
Honestly, being apart of this show has definitely raised my awareness for dating and the types of guys that I will potentially attract due to the fact that a lot of people have a hard time with separating me from the actual character. Honestly, I think that’s why I’m single. I’m not sure if people want to actually get to know me for me or to get a little piece of Damien. Another thing, guys don’t approach me. I’m not sure as to why they don’t but then again I don’t care much either.
Would you say About Him is one of your most prominent successful roles to date?
Not only is it the biggest but it’s also my first one, which is nerve-wracking sometimes. I’m always wondering what people feel about my performance.
Many of the cast from “About Him” came from acting backgrounds, and even went to school for it. I read online that you considered yourself a natural actor. Give some tips to the readers who may be aspiring actors as well.
I look at myself as a natural actor because I’ve been doing it all my life, I didn’t know I was doing it. I’d pop in and out of personalities as a child to cope with being bullied. I took that & went to get it trained. My biggest advice to ANY actor is to train, stretch that muscle as much as possible. Honing the craft will help you to be GREAT.
Great advice! I would also say allow the no’s to inspire you to seek out that final YES. I think entertainment is very hard to break into. It’s possible to be successful. Also to know that somebody else’s success was meant for them. So knowing yourself, and finding your niche and path is very important guys. Just my piece of advice for you guys as well.
You got your very first big role on MTV’s series remake of “Scream.” What was that experience like for you? Did it give you the acting bug to indeed push further into acting?
Being on that set helped me a lot with set etiquette and how things truly come together. I loved working on that set. The crew was amazing, the cast is extremely talented & the storyline is actually pretty intriguing. I do think that working on this project made me realize my calling. As soon as we did the first take for the first episode, I was sold. I told myself, “I wanna do this forever.”. I was serious.
How would you describe your first-day filming the show?
I was EXTREMELY nervous. Me, Darone & Gary were all pretty nervous about meeting and shooting with each other. Both Gary & Darone knew each other before “About Him,” so that made me feel even more nervous. After a few takes, a couple cracked jokes & a shot of tequila; all was well.
Do You Believe “About Him” is an actual coming of age story? What inspired you to take on the role of Damien?
Of course, it is. You know, I think that because of the content within this specific coming of age story that made me want to take on this role. So many people can connect to this story because of how relatable it is. After reading the novel, I knew I had to do it. It was the novel that inspired me, it still does.
Playing the role of Damien, was it easy to get into character or did it honestly take you some time to get to know the character?
I think me developing into Damien was one of the hardest things I’ve had to do. Damien is MUCH more reserved & observant because of his natural curiosity towards the world around him. He’s a teenage boy in the 90’s…I literally just got out of my teenage years all of three years ago. That in itself was the most difficult this to me. It took time…a lot of time. I’m still developing Damien’s character.
Your primary love interest on the show is Vince, who was played by the talented Gary Lavard. The chemistry between the both of you seems so real and believable. Do you think he was the best choice for your character’s love interest?
Not only do I think he was the best choice but without him, this series wouldn’t be nearly as memorable as it was with him.
I agree I think Mr. Lavard was meant to play that role. The acting didn’t seem forced. The chemistry fits perfectly, and I think us as viewers picked up on that. I’ve also read that you spent some time with Gary Lavard before filming, being that he’s a more experienced actor. Did you get some acting advice or tips from him?
I did. He told me to how important it is to stay in the moment. Nothing promised to any one of us, so it’s all about taking a moment & relishing in it making it fantastic, making it worth living through.
Did you feel awkward while filming the big controversial scenes with your cast members, particularly the sex scene with Gary Lavard?
After the first time with Gary, I was fine. We decided to do all the controversial scenes we had with each other in one day, so all the nerves could disappear. With my other co-stars like Rahim & Ríco, it all started with a conversation. A few do’s & don’t’s & were good to go.
The show featured a lot of “soft porn” as many people described it online. I look at it as a piece of art. Have you gotten any negative remarks or comments in the way the show has been viewed?
I got a LOT of negative feedback because of the “soft porn.” More so from my family members though. It’s the people that are supposed to know me the most that judge me the most as well. Interesting, right?
That’s very interesting and very unfortunate. Like PEOPLE it’s just a show, it’s acting! [Laughs Out Loud]. There’s been many graphics (sexy by the way) scenes some of which has been viral on Pornhub, myVidster, etc.
Being an actor and playing this role, did you ever feel uncomfortable doing certain scenes?
Initially, I felt uncomfortable about it all. But prayer changes everything, and it changed everything I thought about or had fears about.
This is no secret but a lot of gay men see the cast as eye candy now. How has the dating scene been for you since the big success of About Him?
It’s been interesting. You see a man’s true colors in certain situations…I’m so hard to date. [Laughs Out Loud]. I just am…and it’s because of that, that a lot of guys can’t handle me. I can’t be tamed, fellas.
Being apart of a successful show that’s based on black gay men. Do you feel like you may end up being type-casted for future roles?
I said this earlier on, and I mean it with all my heart…whatever God has for you, it’s for you. I believe that this role was given specifically to me for a reason. That’s how I feel about everything role or project I will receive in the future. I have every intention of branching out of the LGBT film industry & become more mainstream.
Right now black gay films and web series has indeed taken over social media. Do you think more black gay web series could be making a return on television again in the near future?
Prayerful, “About Him” makes it. I want that so bad. If it’s not us, one of these amazing LGBT shows has to make it. I’ve dreamed about being on television, and it would simply be a dream come true.
Do you think About Him gives the gay community a positive representation?
I do. Our show in so many ways has really assisted in bridging the gap between generations. I noticed how much of a gap that was bridged while being on tour. The show attracts all different types of age groups. I love that about the show.
The show started off with Damien not being sure of his sexuality. Could you say that was something you connected with immediately?
I’d be lying to you if I said I didn’t. I literally went through that all the time, especially with my virginity (when I had it). It’s almost like being stuck in limbo. She wanna listen to your mind. But your heart is telling all types of stuff. You’re confused, agitated because you don’t really understand what’s going on. I know that feeling oh so well.
Signal23tv has released 13 episodes that are currently online. The fans can’t get enough of this show. Tell us some things you guys have in the bag for us on the next season of About Him?
Okay, I’ll give you two things…This season is going to be centered, around Damien’s first year in college…& his first boyfriend.
I’ve seen many positive comments about how the show has helped many other gay men of color with coming out and embracing their sexuality. Reading things like that online, how does that make you feel as an actor when you recieve positive feedback?
It makes me feel like our job was done. I’m so glad we were able to connect with someone. To know that we did truly warms my heart. What I did, what we did helped someone understand who a little bit more about their self. It’s amazing.
A lot of people would consider you the break out star. Everybody on the show is amazing, but there’s something about that stands out more to me. What do you see next for your blossoming career?
Prayerfully, more opportunities to be able to express myself. Acting for me is an expressive exercise that I love to use. Next up, my co-star Tripp Ali along with myself, have been given a radio show. It’s called “The Plug” and it’s brought to you by World Star Hit Radio! We’re so excited for its November 6th debut. I cannot wait until you guys tune in. We cover it ALL! Celebrity gossip, interpersonal relationships, politics, social media…you want, we got it.
Since the success of About Him have you gotten any other filming projects or offers? I would assume so many other black gay film companies would want a piece of you now.
Not really. I’m not sure why but that’s not for me to understand. It just pushes me to go out & get work for myself.
Share with the readers some other black gay web series you’re currently binge-watching at the moment?
“Love@FirstNight.” I love the cast as well as the storyline. It’s intriguing. I’d love to be apart of an episode or two in the near future if possible.
Love@FirstNight is genuinely my second favorite series behind About Him. If you could tell the fans anything before we finish this interview, what would you like to say?
It’s not about him; it’s about you. Never, ever forget that. You should be the only inspiration you need to push forward in life. Love yourself.
Well, thank you for taking time out to do this interview. If you guys would be kept up to date with Brandon Karson, please follow him on his social media accounts. Instagram and Twitter If you guy’s been sitting underneath a damn rock and hasn’t seen AboutHim check out now! You can also purchase the whole season for 25 dollars. SUPPORT this show, and I can’t wait until next season.
Out In Hop Hop And Former Basketball Player Will Sheridan Opens Up About Coming Out And More!
uld they be and why?
Dennis Rodman – he was so eclectic I loved him. David Robinson – he was the opposite in my mind of Dennis, and I was somewhere in the middle. I loved Lisa Leslie, and she made me realize you could be beautiful and still hoop! Allen Iverson was so iconic for just being himself, so I always loved him! Magic Johnson looking back was so amazing in my eyes a 6’11 point guard, and then his HIV status really shocked the world. I knew the way he handled it was a class act and that the world was changing when I saw all that happen!
You started out playing college basketball for the Villanova Wildcats from 2003 to 2007. What was that experience like for you?
Villanova was like my High School, academically competitive, predominantly white and affluent students-so I was very prepared for it. Being a student-athlete was a unique experience because of all the obligations both athletically and academically. I really thrived in the small nurturing environment (Villanova was 6500 undergrad students). I was so blessed to be a part of Jay Wrights second recruiting class theirs along with a best friend of mine, Mike Nardi. I had a great group of guys on my team, and that really made the difference. Coach Wright was an intricate Paternal figure in my life. He still is. I loved college!
At the beginning of your Freshman year in College, you came out privately to your teammate, Mike Nardi. What made you decide to be so revealing?
We were roommates and sharing my computer. So I thought it was important to share with him so that in my honesty he would see that I’m honest and a stand-up type of guy. It worked to my advantage; we are still friends to this day. I felt that if I was going to build relationships with my teammates, I just wanted them to be as honest and real as possible.
I read online that it was kept, as a wall of silence. Do you think if word would of gotten out about your sexuality in the whole league, that it would of cost you everything at that time?
Ten years ago the world was different. What everyone has to realize is that I was out to plenty of people, not just my teammates. I really didn’t have time to develop what I thought about myself and the gay community at the time. I was focused, on the bigger picture of doing well in school and excelling in Coach Wright’s system. I also didn’t want to put myself and my teammates, all young men, in a position where they had to explain my sexuality to press. I thought it was less of a distraction if I was out to the people who mattered to me.
Do you feel like most gay athletes are discriminated and outcasted by their team makes and other teams in the league? (Things like contracts not being offered or renewed?)
What league? The NBA – follow up with me about this. What I will say is that athletics is about being the best. If LGBTQ athletes focused on being great, then everything else would fall into place. I think a lot of LGBTQ athletes use their sexuality as an excuse for not being offered a professional career or tryout when really it’s about talent and building a resume that equates to a professional career plus a little luck…
Kobe Bryant was fined at one point for using a gay slur in reference to an official. How does it make you feel to know that homophobia exist strongly in the Sports Entertainment?
You came out to your family, shortly after your Freshman year in College. What type of response did you get from your parents for being gay?
My mom will tell you she supported me from the beginning. In all honesty, she was hurt and said hurtful things that we have moved past. My mom is my biggest supporter and best friend. My dad is a muscular man. He saw his honor student and athlete son grow into a man without fear of being judged for being gay. So as hateful as he was and is – I genuinely believe he respects me because I did everything plus more in life a man wants his son to do with sports etc. my parent are great people first, and I love them and know they love me.
At what age did you know you were attracted to the same sex?
I was attracted to boys in puberty and acted on those feelings often while also knowing or thinking being gay was “wrong.” I’m not sure I’ve ever said this in an interview, but at a young age, I really wanted to be a girl. So there were some trans ideas there, but as gender fluid, as I am.. I love being a man that loves men.
I don’t think a lot of people get asked this question. Have you ever experimented with women prior to coming out?
I tried really hard to be straight, so I dated women from early middle school up until six months into college. I was never really interested in sex with women and sex, in general, is a really weird thing. It’s more about a connection with me. So I’ve connected with women on many levels as I’ve connected with men on levels as well.
After graduation you played as an international basketball player in Italy.
What was it like playing over seas vs here in the states?
Playing international was great – you’re basically a celebrity wherever you play. I didn’t really enjoy being alone in a foreign country. I went through intense depression while there because I took all these steps forward in being out and who I was and being confident. Then I took several steps back while there. Also, I had to fight like physically fight teammates on new teams that tried to disrespect me on a regular basis. It was annoying af. There were no smartphones then or apps to link up with other gays, so I was very very very alone.
On May 16, 2011 you were interviewed with Dana O’Neil on ESPN.com, you came out publicly and had just retired from basketball.
What was the response like after that interview?
Well to be clear, mentally, I had retired from basketball years before that. I waited so long to come out with ESPN because I was giving my family time to come to terms with my sexuality. Then I ran out of fucks to give, so I just did it.
If given the opportunity, would you mentor an openly gay teenage sports player?
I’d love that. I’m a harsh critic when it comes to talent in athletics so if they can deal with my honesty; then I’d love that.
You’re only the second former Division I male basketball player to publicly come out of the closet as gay — with British former player john Amaechi being the first to come out in February 2007.
Do you think you are a pioneer for other league players, who have came out in recent years?
John is European and American specifically black Americans have different pressures, so I definitely feel like a pioneer in sports, music; Moreover, I feel like a pioneer in life. I feel like a rare breed in this world. My Radical Queerness is deeply rooted in being who you are regardless of expectations of your environment. My natural response to resistance is to turn up even more, and the highlight was people see as different. This is partly because of sports. People say sports builds character, but I actually think sports exposes character – this is who I am. The world has only taught me that you have to be exactly who you are or you’re a fraud. Sports taught me that what you may perceive as a flaw or something that makes you stand out, may actually give you an advantage in competition. I believe if I was who I am today, an actualized adult version of me, back then – I would have been an even better athlete.
In recent years there’s been a few black gay players in sports who has openly revealed their sexuality to the public. What made you decide to come out?
Love. Plain and simple, I came out to my parents because I was in love in college with a boyfriend and wanted to share that with them. Love of self-pushed me to put my story out there and from that, I learned that others actually benefit from sharing. Now I’m an open book because LGBTQ youth are commuting suicide because they feel alone and they’re NOT.
What piece of advice would you give a sports player, who’s dealing with their sexuality but scared to come out publicly?
I would say take your time but time is the most valuable thing. You only have one life to live. I also would say the things we worry about in our head RARELY come true in our actual lives.
Do you feel like coming out as a gay man of color in Sports, helps or destroys someone’s career?
If I was already and pro athlete and I was in the top tier of talent in my sport – I wouldn’t care what people thought. TBH people are benefiting from attaching themselves to Queer culture so it may be beneficial. The problem lies with pro athletes that have not lived in truth. Facing yourself and the lies you’ve lived in is difficult. The people that genuinely support you will no matter what.
Why did you end your basketball career? Do you think if you kept playing, you’ve would continued to be a great representation for the LGBT community in sports?
I just wasn’t passionate about playing. Now I realized that I am actually into sports. It was sort of forced, on me as a child – I never really got to chose whether or not I was actually interested. I was a 6’4 7th grader – picture that. I honestly feel that no minority group that I’m a part of can be appropriately represented, by just one person. I’m glad u think I’m a great representation of the LGBTQ community but not everyone does. For example, my What’s Your Phunktion Video- I remember reading comments from gay fans like “oh, I thought you were masculine?” My response was “ew, what’s your idea of masculine,” but I took it in stride and realized that people project their own insecurities on to other especially in minority communities that I’m a part of.
You were quoted saying a powerful statement. “I’m trying to have a voice and I want that voice to reach as many people as it can.” What does this statement means to you?
I think I have a unique outlook on life that others deserve to hear and read. I want everyone to know that I stand alone as me for me and in that solidarity, I find confidence and integrity just to be who I am. People of all shapes, size, color, and creed could benefit from exercising that type of thinking.
You left Sports and now you’re a Out-Hip Hop Artist. What made you decide to take your next career move in music?
I was always a writer. I was writing for Source Magazine and saw the industry from an insider perspective and knew I could excel in hip-hop music or at least make a solid case for representing a narrative that wasn’t being represented. My poetry became a spoken word. My spoken word became rhymes, and my rhymes became songs, and my songs became paid shows. Now, I’m blessed to have opportunities to move into my art and make money.
You’re signed with Royal Advisor Records and you released your first EP released entitled “Ngoma.” What was that experience like creating your first project?
I release music with indie label RAR, yes I’m primarily an exec on the label. Ngoma was a reflection of where I was early on in my career and life. I had just made my first trip to Kenya. I was full of that energy and music I created, Welcome to the Jungle. It felt great I need to perform that song more!
Why the title Ngoma for your EP?
NGOMA is Swahili for Music. I went to Kenya to volunteer at the Ruiru Rehabilitation Centre to work with orphans that eventually became the initial kids that were part of my nonprofit Ruiru Rising benefiting secondary education for youth in Kenya. They also called me Jitu, which means Giant in Swahili.
The first music video from the EP was “Welcome to the Jungle,” what made you decide to put that single out?
I really just had a lot of fun making it, and everyone around me liked it, so we went with it. Welcome to the Jungle is permanently Welcome to Life! It was my celebration of living the life I wanted and created. DJ MORSY sent me the beat, and it was a rap. So funny, I’m such a better artist, rapper, writer and performer now.
What are you currently working on and when can the fans expect to hear new music from you?
I’m not sure you’re aware, but Ngoma was my second project – in just released my 7th project, G2R a remix album available on Tidal, iTunes and everywhere else. I prefer to release music for free and make my money from touring and performing. A lot of my music is available on my SOUNDCLOUD: SoundCloud.com/willsheridanmusic. I’m currently working on my third #GIANT project to follow up “G2” my second G.I.A.N.T album released in January of 2016. The third album will round out the series and is currently, titled: ALLEGIANT scheduled to be released in late 2017, early 2018. I’m also going to slay a few industry beats and freestyles to keep my fans happy. 2017 is all about releasing visuals and more remixes.
I’ve read online somewhere that you once opened up for Drake?
I opened for Drake at Villanova’s Hoops Mania concert. It was a learning experience, to say the least. My first time was performing in an arena, and we also made an original song the night before. Again a learning experience. I didn’t get to meet Drake – I had another gig that night in Philly, so I had to run. Oops, but it was fun.
You got the chance to perform all over New York City. Everybody knows that a New York audience is not easy to win over. What was some of the highlight and lowest memories back then?
I love to perform. The only tough experience I’ve had performing was on a bill with all straight rappers in 2009, where I was booed for a 30 set when I started rapping more openly gay lyrics to only win them over with my closing number. Some highlights in NYC would include headlining Folsom East festival, Everybooty at Brooklyn Art Museum, Kyle Abraham’s Counter Culture Concert in Harlem, Queer Music Festival, WestGay, Bushwig Drag and Music festival and generally slaying my borough of Brooklyn on the regular.
You released your first full length album “G.I.A.N.T.” in 2012. What’s the message behind GIANT?
Going In And Never Timid-if you’re big enough to be who you are, you’re a GIANT! Plain and simple! The audacity of a queer rapper to put out an 18 track full-length album!
You were featured on allhiphop.com. What were some of your thoughts getting the news? That’s a major online blog for main steam hip hop.
I was the first gay rapper to be featured, without labeling it “gay” or “alternative” and my team at the time was so proud of me for that.
Why do you think other gay artists in Hip Hop are not supported by the LGBT community?
I don’t think most LGBTQ people like rap overall. Then if you’re direct in your lyrics as an artist that happens to be gay the delivery or lyrics sometimes make LGBTQ people uncomfortable. I also think a majority of rappers are lame and the same statistics hold in the LGBTQ community of hip-hop artists. Most are whack or don’t get the bigger picture, so the NOT only the LGBTQ community but the world doesn’t embrace them.
In your honest opinion, do you think queer Rap/Out-Hip Hop will ever be supported by the mainstream music scene and their hardcore hip hop listeners?
Yes. It already has made a movement.
Pick 5 LGBT musicians you would love to collaborate with in the future?
I learned a while back that mentioning other gay rappers, don’t really help my movement and they are not mentioning other artists in their interviews. So, I generally don’t answer this question.
You’re also an Activist and Philanthropist. What motivated you to branch off into those avenues?
It felt natural. I have a huge #GIANT HEART. I’ll do more shortly especially when I have more!
You’re also a manager in a fashion company. What does fashion means to you?
That’s dated info, but I style work in fashion for a production company. And I’m a brand ambassador for BCalla and Ben Copperwheat prints. As a large person, clothes are so important to me because growing up there weren’t many options for clothes that were fun. Now, most of my clothes are custom made for me or customized which feels great. I love fashion feel that it’s the looks we live in that matter most- I believe if you look good, you’ll feel good and perform/ produce better!
What do you see happening next for your career?
I’ll continue to create and tour the world. I continue to cultivate my craft while curating and programming showcases and parties. I’d love to write for other artists more, and I’ll most likely manage other artists officially as I already do just because I have an eye for talent and resources to help.
How can the fans and the readers reach out to you?
Facebook: will Sheridan/ willsheridanmusic
What inspires you as a gay man of color?
Readers And New Visitors!