“This is why one of my priorities is to speak about LGBTQ+ things in my music; to be the voice I needed when I was young.” Rapper, F. Virtue talks the nouvelle vague of Hip-Hop, being called a faggot, cementing his place as a prominent gay voice and growing up with no gay role models.
YOUTH and ROLE MODELS
Who was your first queer kiss?
The first time I kissed a boy I was 17 on a group trip in Israel with kids my age from all over. I had a girlfriend there too. I said I was bi. It was messy, confusing… the drama!
What would it have meant to ‘teen F. Virtue’ to have had a track titled, “Nowadays It’s So Cool To Be Gay” circulating back then?
Damn. I wouldn’t believe it. On so many levels. I used to think I could spend my entire life without coming out. I didn’t have any gay role models and my exposure to LGBTQ culture was through a lens where it was frowned upon. My friends used the word “gay” to literally describe bad things. So I never imagined a world where it was cool, or where I was proudly out.
The worst-best homophobic name you’ve been called?
Gotta go with the classic, “Faggot.” I find it as painful as I do empowering.
A nostalgic music video from your youth that connected with you and perhaps inspired your career as a musician?
Before YouTube it was nearly impossible to see underground rap videos, so the process of finding them, and the way they felt was almost like being in a novel, like they belonged to another world and unraveled secrets or something… I had three DVDs that stand out as having the heaviest impact on me, Atmosphere’s “Sad Clown Bad Dub 7,” The Shape Shifters’ “Terrorists From Another World,” and Definitive Jux’s “The Revenge of the Robots.” All of those had a few specific videos on them that stood out to me, but I won’t bore you with the details, cuz y’all have me very close to geeking out here.
From a queer rapper’s p.o.v. talk to us about the importance of role models, perceptions and identity politics for the queer youth of tomorrow?
It’s extremely important for any and all LGBTQ+ people who are in safe positions to come out to do so in order to raise visibility, awareness and to show the youth that it is okay to be yourself. Because I had no gay role models growing up, I didn’t see being out and happy as a possibility or a path I could take. This is why one of my priorities is to speak about LGBTQ+ things in my music; to be the voice I needed when I was young.
“… hip-hop is and has always been, a voice for the oppressed. And now is our time to end that oppression. Here’s to the new wave!”
Hip Hop lyrics are notoriously explicit and violent, yet when a Hip Hop artist drops a verse about gay romance or politics it turns into a media fiasco. What’s your take on the current state of Hip Hop and are we entering a new wave in the genre?
I believe the state of hip-hop is always getting better in terms of inclusivity and understanding – more LGBTQ+ artists have risen and we are far past the point of being silenced. The youth have more access to information and are exposed to more, which makes them both aware and hopefully, more in-tune with the reality of our beautiful diversities. Artists see that which then shapes their art and approach. So I don’t think people would stand for the same homophobia in hip-hop now that used to be prevalent. After all, hip-hop is and has always been, a voice for the oppressed. And now is our time to end that oppression. Here’s to the new wave!
You own the expression, “Your Favorite Rapper’s Favorite Gay Rapper.” Do you feel defined as a queer rapper, obligated to write queer centric verses or did you start writing queer lyrics even before coming out?
I don’t feel defined as a queer rapper, though it’s not a definition I would dispute at this point – because I’m proud to be one. But I feel 100% obligated to write queer-centric hip-hop, because I write about my life, what I think and go through… I want my songs to be snapshots into my existence and my existence is lived as a gay man. And I have to share myself in this way because that in itself sets an example. In doing so, on a personal level, it also serves as therapy and furthers my understanding of self.
In your track, “License and Registration” you spit, “I’m too queer to be straight and too straight to be queer,” referencing your experience in the traditionally homophobic Hip Hop culture. In the context of health and fitness – does this lyric hold true for you and what is your relationship with health and fitness?
I actually say I’m “Too queer for the straight world, too straight for the queer one / As if there’s a difference of distinction when we’re one…” Meaning that the distinctions between both worlds don’t exist as clear boxes or stereotypes, any type of person can be any sexuality or any kind of person, and we get so wrapped up in what we think being queer is, when all we need to do is just be ourselves. The most masculine man possible can be gay, and the most feminine can be straight – there are no restrictions or set ways for who we are. And there is no way of being that is better than another.
Talk to us about your upcoming album, “Millennial Love During WWII.” How personal and cathartic is this project and what role do you hope it plays in our political climate?
“Millennial Love During WWIII” is part one of a series of albums that are the closest look into my life as a gay man, and my views and experiences at the moments in time where the songs were made, so it’s very much a personal project that I hope fills a void in representing a piece of the gay experience that has yet to be represented in such a medium. It goes through my recent years of love and heartbreak, and the state of the country under actively repressive leadership. Part two in the series, “All’s Fair in Love and War, but Really All’s Unfair Always,” continues the same narrative, but even deeper into the themes, as times have continued to grow darker, along with the dissolving of my marriage… All things I find important to voice and explore outwardly, especially as an out man.
“I want to cement my place as a prominent gay voice.”
In “Nowadays It’s So Cool To Be Gay” you document how artists capitalized on gay posturing. Today, who would be your pipe dream artist to come out as gay?
My dream isn’t for a particular artist to come out, I’ve no fantasies about that. My wish is for any artist who is actually gay to come out, just so they could live their lives fully without regret, and to set a good example for others. I’m saddened to think of people who are hiding who they are day to day, because that’s no way to live.
What’s your Go-To tracks for working out and gettin’ down?
For some strange reason I like to work out to moody music, lately it’s been folk punk, such as Mal Blum and Paul Baribeau, or indie rap, like Milo and Open Mike Eagle. I like to pre-game and get going to cunty shit like vogue or queer hip-hop, and I like to get down to dream pop / bedroom pop, like Men I Trust.
Are there any young Hip Hop artists or queer creatives that make you excited for the future?
There are a lot of young queer creatives that make me excited, most of which I’m lucky to call my homies – shouts to Dick Van Dick, Rozay LaBeija, Skyshaker, Cecpool, Orograph, Santa Monroe, Seraah, King Vulture, Hilton Dresden, Yung Merlot, Infinite and Laskaar.
On a personal level what do you hope for in 2019?
I hope to get both my records out, spread the word, start touring and really take all of this to the next level – I want to cement my place as a prominent gay voice.
What would you graffiti on the back of a toilet door?
Get the fuck off the toilet, it’s beautiful out.