50 Cent’s Straight Rights Concerns and Why Homophobia Will Continue After Marriage Equality

50 Cent, in an interview in which he endorsed marriage equality on the grounds that “If everyone else is for it, then hey, to each his own. I don’t have personal feelings towards it because I’m not involved in that lifestyle,” also decided it made sense to tell the world that:

So in process, we need organizations for straight men. We do. We need organizations for straight men in the case you’ve been on the elevator and somebody decides they want to grab your little buns. Times are changing. Those organizations are set up for at one point they were being attacked for those choices. Now its completely different. Obviously [homosexuality] is more socially accepted.

One of the hardest things about getting people to surrender their privilege is helping them to understand that giving some of it up isn’t going to materially change their living conditions. Asking that women be treated equally isn’t to ask that women have the right to sexually harass men or to invert the pay gap so women make more than men. Advocating for gay rights is in part about communicating that 50 Cent’s arrogant fear that gay men want to grab his ass is unfounded. Liberation, done right, can make things better for both people who have privilege and people who don’t. The people who are disadvantaged get access to the rights they see denied them. And then people who have privilege end up freed from their fears of what might happen if things change, benefitting from their contact with people they were previously separated from.

In this specific case, the wave of endorsements for marriage equality shouldn’t be mistaken for comfort with gay people. We normally talk about how contact with specific gay people makes straight people more receptive to gay rights: when you care for someone, it becomes emotionally difficult to support their continued legal subordination. But President Obama’s use of the bully pulpit reverses that process, and it means we’re seeing a lot of people coming out for substantive gay rights who don’t seem to have fully dealt with their homophobia. That doesn’t necessarily lessen the impact of their endorsements—indifference is better than aggression or loathing—but it is a reminder that progress doesn’t advance in tandem on all fronts.