Marriage equality’s hip hop theme song

The rap duo Macklemore and Ryan Lewis has broken records with their hits “Thrift Shop” and “Can’t Hold Us.” And now, with their pro-marriage equality hit “Same Love,” which features out lesbian Mary Lambert, they’re shattering stereotypes.

Just as “Same Love” supported this movement, the recent Supreme Court rulings on DOMA and Prop 8 are helping the song become an even greater hit. The song hit the charts in February, when several states were voting on marriage equality and the Supreme Court was considering challenges to DOMA and Prop 8. Wednesday, when the Supreme Court ruled on  both cases, “Same Love” rose to No. 28 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, up from No. 65 three weeks ago. Sales of the song rose by 23 percent last week from the week before to a total of more than 788,000 copies, and views of the single’s video on YouTube had approached 53 million by Sunday.

Macklemore released a statement on his website in response to the rulings:

Today is a historic day for civil rights in America. By declaring DOMA unconstitutional, the Supreme Court has stated that the U.S. Government can no longer deny federal benefits to same sex couples.  This means that people like my uncles, who have been in a committed relationship for over 20 years, will now receive the same rights that my parents have. Personally, I feel reconnected to my American identity, and am proud of the progress we have made in recent years…

While today’s ruling was monumental and imperative, we have a long way to go.  There are still 37 states in our country that must shift legislation on same sex marriage before equality for same-sex couples is reached.  But the real work lies in deconstructing the core of where the fear around same-sex couples comes from.  Homophobia and intolerance continue to play a strong role in many households, schools, media and religious institutions in our country.  Without directly addressing the real issues and where they stem from,  America’s momentum towards justice will be stagnant and insincere.

We, especially those of us whose rights are secure, are challenged to not sit passively in this crucial moment of cultural progress.

Macklemore told The New York Times he was inspired to write the song in March of 2012 after reading about a nullied teenager who had committed suicide: “I just wanted to hold myself accountable and hold hip-hop accountable and bring up an issue that was being pushed under the rug,” he said. He also wanted to express support for his gay uncles and godfather. The rap duo offered the song as a theme song to groups working on legalizing same-sex marriage in Washington State and donated some of the singe’s profits to the advocacy group Washington United for Marriage.

Charlie Joughin, a spokesman for the Human Rights Campaign, said, “The fact that a song solely dedicated to the message of marriage equality is climbing the charts and quickly becoming a popular song across the country is a big deal. It’s indicative of a changing attitude.” And GLAAD spokesman Rich Ferraro, commented: “This is a song that has the most unequivocal pro-equality message to ever be expressed in a major single, and it’s really reached a wide range of audiences.”

 [lyrics after the jump]


When I was in the third grade I thought that I was gay,
‘Cause I could draw, my uncle was, and I kept my room straight.
I told my mom, tears rushing down my face
She’s like “Ben you’ve loved girls since before pre-k, trippin’ ”
Yeah, I guess she had a point, didn’t she?
Bunch of stereotypes all in my head.
I remember doing the math like, “Yeah, I’m good at little league”
A preconceived idea of what it all meant
For those that liked the same sex
Had the characteristics
The right wing conservatives think it’s a decision
And you can be cured with some treatment and religion
Man-made rewiring of a predisposition
Playing God, aw nah here we go
America the brave still fears what we don’t know
And God loves all his children, is somehow forgotten
But we paraphrase a book written thirty-five-hundred years ago
I don’t know

And I can’t change
Even if I tried
Even if I wanted to
And I can’t change
Even if I try
Even if I wanted to
My love
My love
My love
She keeps me warm
She keeps me warm
She keeps me warm
She keeps me warm

If I was gay, I would think hip-hop hates me
Have you read the YouTube comments lately?
“Man, that’s gay” gets dropped on the daily
We become so numb to what we’re saying
A culture founded from oppression
Yet we don’t have acceptance for ‘em
Call each other faggots behind the keys of a message board
A word rooted in hate, yet our genre still ignores it
Gay is synonymous with the lesser
It’s the same hate that’s caused wars from religion
Gender to skin color, the complexion of your pigment
The same fight that led people to walk outs and sit ins
It’s human rights for everybody, there is no difference!
Live on and be yourself
When I was at church they taught me something else
If you preach hate at the service those words aren’t anointed
That holy water that you soak in has been poisoned
When everyone else is more comfortable remaining voiceless
Rather than fighting for humans that have had their rights stolen
I might not be the same, but that’s not important
No freedom till we’re equal, damn right I support it

(I don’t know)

And I can’t change
Even if I tried
Even if I wanted to
My love
My love
My love
She keeps me warm
She keeps me warm
She keeps me warm
She keeps me warm

We press play, don’t press pause
Progress, march on
With the veil over our eyes
We turn our back on the cause
Till the day that my uncles can be united by law
When kids are walking ’round the hallway plagued by pain in their heart
A world so hateful some would rather die than be who they are
And a certificate on paper isn’t gonna solve it all
But it’s a damn good place to start
No law is gonna change us
We have to change us
Whatever God you believe in
We come from the same one
Strip away the fear
Underneath it’s all the same love
About time that we raised up

And I can’t change
Even if I tried
Even if I wanted to
And I can’t change
Even if I try
Even if I wanted to
My love
My love
My love
She keeps me warm
She keeps me warm
She keeps me warm
She keeps me warm
Love is patient
Love is kind
Love is patient
Love is kind
(I’m not crying on Sundays)
Love is patient
(I’m not crying on Sundays)
Love is kind
(I’m not crying on Sundays)
Love is patient
(I’m not crying on Sundays)
Love is kind
(I’m not crying on Sundays)
Love is patient
(I’m not crying on Sundays)
Love is kind
(I’m not crying on Sundays)
Love is patient
Love is kind

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5 Comments

  1. Posted July 1, 2013 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

    This is a disappointingly uncritical and non-intersectional take on Macklemore. With Same Love, he’s appointed himself the spokesperson for hip-hop, something he’s decided is homophobic, without acknowledging the existence of many, many queer rappers of color who have come before him. He’s claiming hip-hop culture as his own, when it’s something that was created by black people which he’s borrowed. And he’s arguably furthering the notion that black people are exceptionally homophobic (which isn’t true) by focusing his critique on hip-hop as a genre. Racialicious tackled this really well here.

    I’m not as well-versed in these issues as people of color who know more about hip-hop culture would be, but Feministing, you can do better than this. Y’all frequently bring in people who offer those types of perspectives which differ from the mainstream and who can present a critical, intersectional lens on stuff like this. Please don’t lose that–it’s what keeps me reading.

  2. Posted July 1, 2013 at 1:49 pm | Permalink

    So much Seattle pride! Kudos to Macklemore for tackling this issue with courage.

  3. Posted July 1, 2013 at 10:28 pm | Permalink

    I don’t even know where to start…

    Can we please PLEASE stop praising this guy? And courage? Spare me. He has to make sure we understand that he’s straight because gays are great but god forbid someone mistake him for one. Then he feels it necessary to try to call out hip hop for being homophobic when there are a number of prominent hip hop artists who have spoken out in support of gay marriage not to mention, you know, ACTUAL queer hip hop artists. (Not to mention that lots of musicians in other genres are pretty homophobic too, hip hop is just an easy target.) I’ve read that he has said he wants to “hold hip hop accountable.” He’s got no business doing so when he’s climbing on the backs of the black community who created hip hop.

    And I don’t care what point he’s trying to make, he needs to keep the “f” word out of his mouth. As a straight man, he’s got no business using it. As a lesbian, I’ll take the support of Jay-Z or Nicki Minaj or Kendrick Lamar over Macklemore any day. Try again, Feministing.

    • Posted July 12, 2013 at 12:49 pm | Permalink

      Yes! This is yet another example of ‘when supposedly well-intentioned allies-with-privilege go oh-so-wrong!’
      Read Karen Tongson’s fabulous analysis of this and how “the rhetoric of ‘sameness’ and the white male hetero privilege that affords such statements of equivalency feel totally patronizing” : http://www.fromthesquare.org/?p=5005

  4. Posted July 2, 2013 at 9:22 am | Permalink

    “I just wanted to hold myself accountable and hold hip-hop accountable and bring up an issue that was being pushed under the rug”

    As a straight white male, is it really Macklemore’s place to bring up these issues? Check out this article for another perspective: http://www.racialicious.com/2013/03/06/race-hip-hop-lgbt-equality-on-macklemores-white-straight-privilege/

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