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Coming out does not excuse past slurs

With his release of Flower Boy, Tyler, The Creator has officially cemented his sexuality. While he attempted to come out several times in the past few years, his newest album has ended the mystery.

The official news of his sexuality, however, has also complicated an issue that many listeners have previously had, or still have, with the O.F.W.G.K.T.A. collective founder. Tyler, The Creator has often been cited as being problematic for his inflammatory use of homophobic and sexist slurs for shock value. While it reflects his apathy and attitude toward people outside of his own bubble, until recently, his use of these slurs seemed to come from an irresponsible place.

While celebrities deserve a degree of privacy in regard to their actions and words, it is ultimately null, especially in the face of such sensitive issues. Celebrities often forego their rights to be inflammatory without accountability and Tyler, The Creator is no different. While it is the right of a marginalized person to use derogatory terms in a reclamatory or even inflammatory manner, this same right is not guaranteed to people who can pass for not being marginalized.

While Tyler, The Creator is, now, hypothetically “licensed” to use these slurs, it does not entirely erase his use of these words in the past. This also extends to other closeted people in the public sphere who interact with people on a macro scale. Closeted people should never be subject to have themselves exposed, but the use of reclamatory slurs should only be limited to those people who are publicly out. Not only does it make it less complex to determine whether celebrities are actually accountable for such language, it also creates safer environments for fans of said celebrities to gauge whether they want to truly follow these figures.

Celebrities are accountable, whether they like it or not, for their actions to their fans and to other constituents. Even if some LGBT people do not care about the use of these slurs, it is still not an overarching statement for an entire class, especially one that is still struggling with social and legal rights worldwide. The flagrant use of these slurs, especially from people who are not LGBT, only serves to alienate people who do find these words offensive because of their sensitivity. It is only from a place of privilege that one can claim that the use of these slurs is entirely without consequence or matter, especially to oneself.

While Tyler, The Creator cannot, and would not care to, retroactively redact his use of such slurs as a closeted queer man, it is still an issue that deserves careful thought, especially from fans and ex-fans who must decide if his past actions were justifiable.

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