Right before the release of his bestselling book, Hiding in Hip-Hop: On the Downlow in the Entertainment Industry from Music to Hollywood (2008), Terrance Dean sent shivers through the industry with the fear that he was about to “out” some of Black entertainment’s most popular artists. But, cleverly, the book was full of blind items and did not name any names, prompting bloggers and readers to play guessing games.
This June, Dean returns with his first novel, Mogul. Centered on the life and career of a rap mogul, Big A.T., who runs a successful label with some of biggest stars in the Hip-Hop industry, including his lover, superstar rapper, Tickman. The book is interesting and relatively realistic in it’s portrayal of the industry, Big A.T., is a character that the reader can love, hate, and love again. But, how is Mogul another blind item? Is the Hip-Hop industry ready for love scenes between men? Is Hip-Hop music and culture ready for an openly gay artist? AllHipHop.com talked to Terrance Dean about Hip-Hop and homosexuality.
AllHipHop.com: What have you been doing since Hiding in Hip-Hop.
Terrance Dean: I’ve written two other books, including Straight from your Gay Best Friend: The Straight-Up Truth about Relationships, Work, and Having a Fabulous Life, worked on some television and book projects. And I just finished Mogul which I am getting ready to tour with.
AllHipHop.com: What was the motivation behind Mogul?
Terrance Dean: Like in Hiding in Hip-Hop, which was my memoir, I really wanted to tell the story from a different perspective and a different character. I wanted to show this gay sub-culture that really does exist, that I think people are more aware of now.
AllHipHop.com: Are the characters in the book based on real people?
Terrance Dean: All the characters in Mogul are inspired by people that I know. Big A.T. is a combination of two people that I know. His character spoke a lot to me because I knew that character and I knew that story. I hope that when people read the book that they don’t try to match the characters with people. Look at the story, look at the plot. I really want people to think, ‘What would you do?’ We find Big A.T. caught in so many situations and challenges. He knows who he is on the inside, but there are so many outside forces that prevent him from being his true authentic self.
AllHipHop.com: Do you think in any way that the book perpetuates gay stereotypes?
Terrance Dean: What do you mean?
AllHipHop.com: I mean gay, hypersexual guys, who are just turning out guys…lying to women?
Terrance Dean: This is the entertainment industry; this is how the industry is on the inside. Look at the images of women and how they are portrayed in Hip-Hop. Hip-hop is a very hyper-sexual industry in itself. People often say that gays are so promiscuous but I think heterosexuals are far more promiscuous. This is just the industry and how it is, period. The industry perpetuates a hypersexual image. Whether hetero or homosexual.
AllHipHop.com: How do we move beyond that?
Terrance Dean: Conversations, books, look at Lil B, he is someone who wants to have that conversation. So many rappers are very progressive and can take the power from the word and ideology of gay. Those who are progressive in the Hip-Hop music have to be progressive enough to sit across from a gay man or woman and have that conversation about how can we grow as a community. That machisimo that hypersexuality is stifling our community.
AllHipHop.com: With a character like Jasmine, (Big A.T.’s female love interest and baby momma) who finds out that the man she is in love with is gay, and not from him, and with the ideology of “down-low” men and the rise of HIV among black women, how should women react to the book?
Terrance Dean: I think a lot of women are going to see themselves as Jasmine. Women who have been in a relationship with a man, and not even look at the sexuality, but are in relationships with men who are not giving themselves to them fully. I think that’s what Jasmine finds herself grappling with. She is trying to figure out who she is as well. I hope when women read her story, and I tried to be authentic to her story, I hope women find themselves thinking about finding their own identity. Jasmine is based on an actual woman.
AllHipHop.com: So, who is your audience?
Terrance Dean: Those who are interested in the industry as a whole. Women. I want women to be engaged. Hip-Hop has formed and shaped the mindset of so many of us. Look at our communities; we are starved, mentally and culturally. Look at magazines like Smooth and King, which keep women posed half-naked on our covers. Look at the HIV rates, black women are the most infected, why? Why is that so? Look at teen pregnancy; I want us to start these kinds of conversations. Look at down-low relationships; I want women to be able to engage in those kinds of conversations. I want the book to make people start to talk more and ask questions more. I think men need to look at this industry and understand how they may be approached in this industry; you will be approached in this industry. In the gay community we need to have these conversations. So many of us don’t identify who we are and we hide. I think African-American men we are more hidden than our Caucasian brothers. We are still hiding.
AllHipHop.com: Do you think a major urban star, a Hip-Hop star, will ever come out?
Terrance Dean: I think we are approaching that age. It’s obviously something that people know we can’t keep hiding and tucking in the closet. Look at Eddie Long and that whole situation, we need to have that conversation. I think a mainstream artist whom someone will never suspect will come out and shock the world. I think that is needed, a homosexual man whom people will never suspect, who fits in their community, and is gay in a masculine form. I definitely think an artist is going to come forth.