Taylor Bennett Comes Out as Bisexual, a Major Step for Inclusiveness in Hip-Hop

LBGTQ visibility has been nearly nonexistent when it comes to Hip-Hop artists. For all of its inclusive, progressive, and positive aspects, Hip-Hop has very few artists in its history who have come out as being gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, or any other sexual identity other than heterosexual. In fact, the most well-known artist under the umbrella of “Hip-Hop” to have publicly commented on his homosexuality is Frank Ocean, who many would argue is not even a Hip-Hop artist, per se. Big Freedia, New Orleans’s reigning Bounce artist, has been very open about her sexuality, but her audience is far more niche than Frank’s, and she has yet to become fully embraced by crossover and mainstream Rap culture. Similarly, artists like Young M.A, Cakes da Killa, Le1f, and Mykki Blanco have all made waves in their respective pockets of Hip-Hop music, but it’s safe to say Rap has never before had a mainstream, openly gay artist.

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That’s what makes Taylor Bennett’s recent coming out so powerful. As the younger brother of arguably the hottest name in Hip-Hop right now – Chance the Rapper – Taylor is an emergent artist himself, one poised to garner plenty of attention because of his familial ties. Yesterday (January 18), Taylor took to Twitter to share a series of tweets which explained his decision to come out as a bisexual man.

Today (January 19), he celebrates his 21st birthday as an artist being celebrated for more than his music. Thousands of messages of support have since been shared, not just in regards to his birthday, but perhaps more importantly for his brave decision. His hometown of Chicago is showing him love by way of a blog post from the city’s “Go Pride” LGBTQ-focused organization. As the post explains, Taylor has an extensive history of supporting the city’s LGBTQ community, including a recent partnership with a local chef to create a signature dish “with sales benefiting Pride Action Tank, an LGBTQIA advocacy group focused on housing, health and safety of Chicago-area youth.” Rapper Nitty Scott (who herself has come out as bisexual) also showed her support, tweeting to Taylor “you’re a beautiful soul. thank you for being visible while living in your truth.”

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Older brother Chance tweeted a message of support for Taylor, which included a video of the Bennett family celebrating a milestone together.

Taylor’s coming out comes at a critical moment in his career. As longtime fans are aware (and as this December 2016 Chicago Tribune interview points out), he’s been carving his own path for many years. He sold out his first show at only 17, and though his older brother is the one up for several Grammy Awards next month, Taylor has made a distinct name for himself that will likely only become more well known since yesterday’s announcement. According to the same Tribune report, a 2017 album is “likely,” a fact seemingly supported by his decision to release a new song, “New York Nights,” just last month.

Bisexuality in men is almost always regarded with more disdain from society than it is in women. Homophobia remains prevalent despite great progress in the movement for gay rights, and as such, men have been traditionally more reticent to come forth as being attracted to two genders. On January 7, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a national report entitled “Sexual Behavior, Sexual Attraction, and Sexual Orientation Among Adults Aged 18–44 in the United States: Data From the 2011–2013 National Survey of Family Growth,” its most recent on the topic of sexuality. Among other things, the study found, according to CNN, that “higher numbers of both women and men identified as bisexual, 5.5% of women and 2% of men, compared with 3.9% and 1.2% respectively in the last survey.”

However, there remains a stark contrast between men and women as it pertains to reporting their bisexuality. “The finding that women were more likely than men to say they were bisexual is consistent with what previous studies have found,” says the CNN report. Yet the headline of the article is “Bisexuality on the rise, says new U.S. survey,” suggesting that despite only incremental growth in reported male bisexuality, the numbers are indeed increasing. In the fall, a new survey will be released analyzing more recent data surrounding bisexuality.

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There is much to be done regarding the visibility of bisexuality in popular culture, and furthermore in communities of color. Signs of progress abound, though. On a recent episode of the hit NBC series This Is Us focused on the bisexual Black male and the Golden Globe-winning film Moonlight centers around Black male sexuality in a way that shatters notions of heteronormativity.

Taylor released his debut album Broad Shoulders in 2015, but is scheduled to release a short film for the project’s title track on January 25. Heads can see a teaser of the film here.