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I was only eight or nine when I started seeing OutKast’s “Rosa Parks” and “Ms. Jackson” videos on TV. Big Boi is one of the 20 greatest MCs to ever do it, but there was always something that stood out about Andre 3000.

At that age, I thought the word “gay” was a synonym for “weird” or “different.” And for a while, that’s the best word my nine-year-old vocab could produce to describe Dre’s style. But that didn’t ever stop him from being one of my favorite rappers.

Me and my mom were talking about her favorite artist Prince, and I told her how I feel both Prince and Dre proved society’s ideas about gender and sexuality are as primitive as its ideas about race. So am I crazy for thinking that because I liked Dre and Prince’s music, I could never actually be an agent of homophobia?

Obviously my logic is as flawed as John Turturro’s argument in “Do The Right Thing” – that Magic and Eddie transcended race – that they weren’t like other niggas. But whether it’s Charlize Theron’s son dressing like a Disney Princess or Magic’s son dressing like, um, this…

…Whatever influenced it, it’s done, and we need to let it be.

You only shame yourself by attempting to instill shame in another human being.

And it’s interesting that you’re more concerned with protecting the masculinity of this orphan who was adopted into the first world or this the son of an all-time NBA great than the countless young men who are losing their masculinity to the education and prison systems every day.

Young Thug is today’s Andre, so far ahead of his time musically that he has the privilege to play with society’s gender norms without losing a step. We must protect Thugger like Chris Crocker protected Britney Spears. Leave Jeffrey alone.

As Andre, Tyler Perry and Martin proved, the more dresses Thugger puts on, the more attention and money he will continue to get. Money that will be used to employ other young Black men – potential Young Thugs. The dress won’t be the reason, but if it’s the only thing you notice you gotta focus on the bigger picture.

Dave Chappelle took an important stand against Comedy Central when they tried to metaphorically “put him in a dress.” But his stand wasn’t the same as the paranoid misogyny buried in questions about Young Thug’s sexuality or Nate Parker’s public announcement that he will never play a gay role to preserve the image of the Black man.

I have no issue with setting that personal boundary for your self – I’m not kissing anyone for a paycheck either– But what’s understood doesn’t have to be said.

So for the Twitter trolls who are more worried about Charlize Theron’s trust-fund baby than their own well-being, and the music fans who are more concerned with Jeffery, Frank and Young M.A.’s sex lives than their art, who are you really mad at: Them or yourself?

Our culture has always been about unfiltered self-expression (check the erotic disco gear the 1980’s rap pioneers used to wear), so isn’t it better to have our non-conforming masculinity expressed outwardly, like this, than to end in situations like The Finisher or Bambaataa?




An Open Letter To Young Thug Haters: Leave Jeffery Alone  was originally published on