Hero of the Week Award: May 18, Jay-Z and Argentina

18 May

Heroes of the Week

Thank you to my friend Jennifer Carey, LGBT ally and social justice advocate, for inspiring me to write about Jay-Z. This week we were lucky enough to have a tie for HWA, with two very disparate events that both merit celebration. What a nice surprise!

Hip hop superstar and businessman Jay-Z earns his share of the award with his staunch support of marriage equality and of President Obama’s supportive statements. Having just celebrated his own wedding anniversary, he reflected

I have always thought of it as something that is still holding the country back. What people do in their own homes is their business… It is no different than discriminating against blacks. It’s discrimination, plain and simple… It was the right thing to do. It’s really not about votes. It’s about people. So whether it cost him votes or not, I think it was the right thing to do as a human being.

Given the rap industry’s history of homophobia and the black community’s uneasy relationship with LGBT rights, this strong support from a highly visible member of both camps is powerful indeed.

Meanwhile in Argentina… In a unanimous vote the Argentine Senate approved a law that makes it very easy for citizens to change their gender on legal documents in that country. Activists who track gender identity laws said that no other country has gone so far to embrace gender self-determination. In the United States and Europe, transgender people must submit to physical and mental health exams and must generally begin a physical transition to qualify to even petition for a legal change of gender. With this bold yet simple move, Argentina has become the most trans-friendly nation in the world, building on the progressive LGBT tradition begun two years ago with legal marriage equality. When will the U.S. catch up?

12 Responses to “Hero of the Week Award: May 18, Jay-Z and Argentina”

  1. prideinmadness May 18, 2012 at 7:44 am #

    Progress can come from the places you least expect it! The USA is supposed to be all top notch and up to date….yeah ok…..

  2. Jennifer Carey May 18, 2012 at 11:12 am #

    I was so excited when Jay-Z made this very public declaration – especially using the weight of the excitement around the birth of his child with Beyonce. His voice carries immense weight in hip-hop culture and the African American community.

    • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt May 18, 2012 at 11:27 am #

      Thank you for bringing the story to my attention. Sometimes I get behind a bit in my hip-hop news, which is odd given I’m so hip.

  3. Christine Noble May 18, 2012 at 2:49 pm #

    Very awesome news on both counts. Though I have loved hip-hop culture, for the most part, almost as long as it has existed (anyone here remember Kool Moe Dee?) homophobia has been a strong part of it almost since the beginning and definitely through the 90’s forward (I know we all remember “no homo.”) So kudos to Jay-Z for stepping up and thank you to Argentina for making it easier for trans folk. I just wish our own country would do this. I will be able to change my name in the fall, but there will be a big (at least to me) black “M” on my ID.

    • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt May 18, 2012 at 5:12 pm #

      Christine, I, too, am sad that the US really is lagging behind in basic human/civil rights. Your voice and our collective voices, I hope will make a difference.

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