Vh1’s “Love and Hip Hop” is changing the LGBT conversation in the black community

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Vh1’s Love and Hip Hop reality franchise about the professional and personal relationships had by rappers and their entourage has been successfully playing since 2011, when the original New York-based show premiered. Since then, it’s spawned six spin-offs, including versions in Atlanta and Los Angeles, and one dedicated to star K. Michelle, who is openly bisexual.

2015 BET Awards - Show

But she’s not the only one. In fact, Love and Hip Hop has featured several different women who do not identify as 100 percent straight: Cyn Santana, Erica MenaJoseline Hernandez, Moniece Slaughter, Ashley Nicole and Ariane Davis are all out women who have regularly appeared on one of the shows. Their relationships—romantic, sexual, friendly, hateful or a combination of a few—are all captured by cameras, and the drama continues like a Real Housewives saga for the hip hop set. There are reunions, after shows, Twitter fights and scandals. But whereas the Housewives love to tease faux sexual fluidity for music videos or publicity, the real relationships the women of LAHH have have been treated with a fair amount of respect.

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Tonight, Vh1 will air a special one-hour conversation called Out in Hip Hop, which is a tie-in to Love and Hip Hop as the show has its first openly gay male rapper this season, Miles, and his partner, Milan. The roundtable discussion will include several personalities in the hip hop world and black church community, including Felicia “Snoop” Pearson (The Wire), Siya (Sisterhood of Hip Hop)Nneka Onuorah (The Same Difference) and Sharon Lettman-Hicks, the Executive Director of the National Black Justice Coalition. Because the church is such a huge part of where homophobia is spawned, it is a part of the conversation, as you can see in this clip.

While reality shows like LAHH, Sisterhood of Hip Hop and R&B Divas have been inclusive of black lesbian performers, there is still a huge amount of pervasive homophobia in rap music, internal and otherwise. Luckily, these shows are signifying that there are allies within the rap community who are interested in helping to create a safer space for the talented performers who should not feel of two different worlds when they are both LGBT and MCs.  

Kudos to Vh1 for utilizing the success of their Love and Hip Hop brand to create a much-needed conversation about being black and queer. But I do wonder why the many lesbian/bi women of the LAHH family are sitting this one out.

Out in Hip Hop airs tonight at 11/10c on VH1.