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Melts in Your Mouth: Eminem’s Shady Sexuality

By Mark Simpson 

(, February 22, 2001)

Eminem, aka Marshall Mathers, may have won only a few consolation prizes at the Grammys yesterday, but clearly the white rapper behind The Marshall Mathers LP has created the Album of the Year in every other sense. Em is the hottest property not just in the music business, but in pop culture itself, and, like Big Gay Al, aka Elton John, who sang a duet with him on stage, no one – the fans, the press, the critics, the police, the Vice President’s wife – can leave him alone.

Especially, of course, the gay rights activists, two hundred of whom picketed the Staples Center in protest at his “violently homophobic lyrics” (and what they saw as gay Elton’s “betrayal”).

Afterwards, the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation solemnly expressed “gratitude” that Em was not awarded Album of the Year, but complained that the three minor Grammys awarded Eminem showed that “Academy members were willing to place their stamp of approval on lyrics that promote hate, prejudice and violence.”

Amen. But the rather important point that the protestors appear to have overlooked is, Sure, Em’s music is violently homophobic. It also happens to be violently homosexual. The two facts are not necessarily in contradiction of each other. Actually, in the world beyond the Care Bear sexuality of GLAAD, they’re inseparable. It might even be the case that the Grammy didn’t go to Em precisely because his lyrics are too queer.

To understand this you just have to pay attention to the music instead of the press releases. Sodomy never sounded so seductive, or seditious. When fellow Detroit rapping duo Insane Clown Posse ‘wittily’ renamed Slim Shady “Slim Anus” on their last album, the squeaky blond bombshell responded quickly and explicitly. “Slim Anus? You damn right Slim Anus / I don’t get fucked in mine like you two little flamin’ faggots,” he retorts on a track on Marshall Mathers, the CD that lost the Grammy.

But then in the track “Ken Kaniff,” he all-too-enthusiastically impersonates the voices of the ICP frontmen engaging in lip-smacking fellatio complete with very convincing grunts and groans and backed by cheesy porno Muzak: “Fuck yeah! Suck it! That’s good!” (ICP have since placed a downloadable track on their website featuring an Eminem-on-poppers-soundalike getting reamed by his hip-hop producer, Dr. Dre.)

Am I the only one who got aroused by all this “homophobia”? I suspect not. After all, sodomy – and graphic sodomy at that – is really the only sex you’ll find on Em’s record-selling CD, whether in the form of invitations to the listener to “suck my fucking dick, you fucking faggot” or dismissing his critics as bitter queens: “He’s just aggravated because I won’t ejaculate in his ass.” If Em really is the “New Elvis,” it seems that Jailhouse Rock is his starting point (which would at least explain his prison punk look). Even when he leaves the violent sodomy alone for a moment and turns to romance, it’s of a rather queer kind, as in the hit single “Stan,” in which a fan sends a series of unrequited love letters to his rap-star hero – the song Eminem chose to duet with Elton John with at the Grammys.

Em himself “comes out” and acknowledges his obsession/passion in another skit on Marshall Mathers in which a furious record exec complains that he can’t sell his records because instead of rapping about his wide-screen TV, Eminem is “rapping about homosexuals!” (Of course, the joke here is that Eminem’s records “about homosexuals” could hardly sell better.)

Now, if all this “fuckin’ homo” stuff seems adolescent, that’s probably because it is. It’s meant to be. Adolescence is a time of hormonal anxiety about identity for boys, but nowadays it’s not just a phase, it’s a career. And what is it that boys are supposed to grow into these days anyway? Masculine certainties have vanished, in many cases, along with dad, family and blue-collar jobs. The only certainty left to bastard boys like this is that they are “not a fag.” It’s a negative identity that can’t sustain a sense of self, let alone sustain one in a world which has made boys useless – i.e. faggots – by making traditional, mature masculinity redundant.

Rapismo like Eminem’s articulates that frustration, then soothes the anxiety the articulation produces. Eminem’s own story (now the stuff of legend) is instructive. A poor, pretty, blue-eyed white boy growing up in a depressed black area of Detroit without a dad, he left the house the definition of “different.” He claims that he was neglected by his mother, which she vigorously disputes. Perhaps the truth is that he was spoilt and fussed over and then ended up hating his mother for as he saw it turning him into a sissy: “I used to be mommy’s little angel at twelve” he sings in “I’m Back.”

To avoid complete emasculation, he rebelled against his mother and chose to be fathered by pop culture, in the form of hip-hop and the humongous phallus of black street culture. To Eminem (and other “shady” white boys of uncertain paternity from better homes) the world seems like a post-feminist nightmare where Mom is the law – and political correctness is merely “wash your mouth out with soap” writ large. He’s South Park‘s Kyle, ten years down the line plus plenty of drugs and disappointment.

In this cartoonish world, homosexuality isn’t only emasculation and weakness, it’s also the ultimate machismo, and the ultimate rebellion against “bitches” – as well as a contradictory solution to the problem of being fatherless, easing as it does the ache for male intimacy. But easing that ache means acknowledging it. And that means weakness. So homosexuality has to be constantly “stabbed in the head,” to use one of Em’s more infamous lines, even as it is constantly being evoked.

Every stab just leads to another target. After all, homos are everywhere nowadays in pop culture. And the blatancy of male passivity in a world where males are sex objects only makes this “stabbing” more imperative – even when you’re not, like Eminem, a pretty bottle-blond boy with “cock-sucking lips” (to quote ICP) and more than a passing interest in having your picture taken. “All I see is sissies in magazines smilin’” groans Eminem.

Staring at my jeans, watching my genitals bulging (Ooh!) 
That's my motherfucking balls, you'd better let go of 'em
They belong in my scrotum, you'll never get hold of 'em.

Look at the pictures of him in his book Angry Blonde (interesting spelling, that), skim past the one of him in blond pigtails to the ones where he is surrounded by a crowd of bleach blond Shady male clones gazing at him with shining, hungry eyes. Has pop culture ever looked more disturbingly queer?

Slim Shady is famously a character Em invented to express his “dark thoughts.” But maybe Slim is himself just a screen. This is not to say that Mr. Mathers is “really gay” (just as he clearly isn’t “really straight”), but just “really fucked up.” Perhaps the “real” Em is as neurotic, mother-identified/mother-hating, homeless, vulnerable, narcissistic and passive (aggressive) as the lyrics and the picture of him on his album cover suggest. In other words, all the things that make a great star, from Elvis to Lennon to Cobain.

And, alas, he’s all the things that can make young men these days who will never be stars sad and sullen, and sometimes suicidal. A seventeen-year-old white Eminem fan in Devon, England recently threw himself in front of a train. Apparently, he was depressed by the “dissing” he’d experienced from friends after a gay boy said he fancied him at a party. The liberal coroner thought the lad’s anxieties foolish and misplaced: “He appears to have been unusually worried over his sexual orientation which really should not affect people a great deal either way.”

Maybe. But Eminem and the sexually shady, not to say confused, world of white hip-hop show that such a preoccupation is anything but trivial for too many boys today. It’s all they have left.


This essay is collected in Sex Terror: Erotic Misadventures in Pop Culture

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26 thoughts on “Melts in Your Mouth: Eminem’s Shady Sexuality”

  1. This sounds just like the spat i had on youtube with antigay fools, sucking cock isn’t straight or gay, all men want to be sucked, i am gay guy, not camp or queenie, a lad gay, gay sex for me is cocksucking, all men want it, in fact straight men have come on to me, because of being straight attitude but love cock, any guy bangs on about it has wondered about it, anyone antigay is because he knows, he would let guy suck him off, right enviroment, when sucked right, it’s fucking amazing, i love it. men want sucking.

  2. Eminem is a talentless hip hop artist who is a total sellout and while he’s certainly not gay or bisexual he does have one thing in common with the so called gay/GLBT community and culture that don’t really exist and that’s a mass drive of conformity and consumerism just like most gay men these days seem to have.

  3. My verdict: I don’t think Eminem is gay at all but just one completely fucked up dude in the head. He obviously is insane as his track on the relapse implies. Parental neglect (his mother) and abuse (molested by stepfather) coupled with his environment (rough and gritty inner city of Detroit), marital problems (his wife Kim and daughter Hailey), and drug addiction (cocaine, weed, all types of pills) equals one really messed up guy. But whether he’s gay or straight, he’s skilled at the rap game and that’s what matters. He brings in the bacon.

  4. Lots of anger over a simple point of view. A) This Mark guy can say whatever the fuck he wants. It’s the internet. B) Scoot man, lmao. You act like there’s a written law against there being more than one white rapper. Maybe you are gay. Jealous that your dreamboat got famous and now that he’s out of your league…

    Who knows, Eminem could very well be gay (Not that it matters, but hey). Who are you all to say he’s not? Even if he is, he is one rich fudge-packer.

  5. shut the fuck up u mother fuckers. eminem is an asslicking faggot. his only audience is fucking 12 year olds who like to hear the word fuck. hes a little pussy who wants to act badass pretending he has had a terrible childhood. hes one of the biggest sell outs in fucking music history, so shut the fuck up. dont defend someone who pretends to hate you. idk how he got as famous as he did. “OMG A WHYTE RAPPER, JEEZUMMSS!”. fucking christ. vanilla ice beat him to it. so hes got fucking nothing. even ICP beat him to it. so all u little fanboys can go cum in ur pants to “im the real slim shady”. just dont post your fucking un-dieing love to eminem and go pretend you have something better to do with your time.

  6. Also on another note. I don’t believe Eminem is gay. I am gay so I know a gay guy. Eminem is way too close minded to even consider it and if Eminem were gay… I would go straight because I refuse to have the same orientation as that misguided prick

  7. I think it is a little distorted that most of the insults on this board are “faggot, cocksucker, etc.” I do believe that society has gotten too used to using these terms as casual insults, And as a homosexual I do find them offensive. Eminem sucks kthnx bye

  8. Now, now, you’re really getting a little too hysterical and abusive. It’s still enormously entertaining, but I’m afraid I’m going to have to pull the plug on you – for your own safety.

    Oh, and by the way: Eminem isn’t my type. Too gay.

  9. Okay, you really do want to beef this out don’t you?
    If anyone’s confused then it’s you, you fucking prick! Your really confused aren’t you, even for a GAY person! Anyways you probably convinced yourself sooo much that eminem’s gay that you probably believe it in your sick gay mind, don’t you! Anyways even if you didn’t say that eminem was gay you still implied it, which is stupid and I’m just simply defending eminem by saying that I don’t think that he’s gay! And if I somehow proved your point in your mind then good for you, I hope your fucking happy, because loads of people will sooo disagree with you and your dumbass jabs at men that you wanna believe are gay, so you can go and jack off to that image!

    Fucking end of!

  10. It seems you’re very, very confused. Even for an Eminem fan.

    But thanks for your input, and proving my point. If it needed to be proved.

  11. No I never read it that way, you fucking cocksucker!
    I read it and actually thought about it! I, myself have actually thought of eminem as gay at times but then I’ve seen loads of straight boys act and talk like him, plus he just probably acts like that to be funny which he is! Anyways he doesn’t really seem gay to me just a bit crazy at times! And for your fucking info, he does not sound and look gayer than JT, because for one JT sounds much more like a girl, if you haven’t noticed then I suggest hearing aids or maybe you can clean your ears? And JT looks gayer and acts gayer, have you seen him in alpha dog? and in his music videos? yeh my fucking point proven! anyways as I will say again, which you ignored is I am not trying to argue with you I’m just trying to give my opinion which seems more believable then eminem’s gay!

  12. I didn’t say he was gay. Interesting that you and other Eminem fans read it that way when you’re so sure of his sexuality.

    But now that you mention it, he looks and sounds and acts way gayer than Justin Timberlake.

  13. Hey, I’m not trying to argue with you or anything but don’t you think that it’s a bit stupid to call eminem gay? He was married and divorced to Kim numerous times, he has a daughter and he had numerous relationships with other female celebs like Mariah Carey and Brittany Murphy, so I kinda know for a fact that eminem isn’t gay, so please just stop jumping to conclusions when you really haven’t got a fucking clue!
    Eminem is probably one of the straightest guys unlike Justin Timberlake, lets just take a look at him, he sings like a barbie, he looks like a fag, he acts like a fag, he laughs like a fag and he just gives of gay vibes, so I really think he’s gay, cause I can just tell! Plus one of the nyscn members are gay so there probably all gay! Or maybe J.T’s bisexual!

    p.s (don’t call me a gay bastard or whatever your reply is to males cause I’m a girl so haha!)

  14. ha ha , no i am afraid i am typically scottish, smallish stocky hairy shaved head with a love of haggis, being burns night this week i am in my element as you can imagine

  15. Sorry about that. Big Gay Al is of course a real living human being, whereas Elton John is a cheap cartoon.

    I did watch ‘World Police’, but was disappointed that none of their puppets had lips like Virgil Tracy.

  16. Mark, I’m taking you to task: how dare you equate the righteous Big Gay Al with Elton John!

    While you have told me that you are not a huge fan of South Park, yet here you elude to one of that show’s most memorable figures!

    And on the topic of creative cocksucking, have you ever gotten to watching Parker and Stone’s masterpiece “Team America: World Police!” It’s based on that old ITV puppet show from the 60s, ‘The Thunderbirds’

  17. well mark if you ever get back up to scotland i would gladly!!! this is a great site i have just found it after being a big fan of your books and work, you any plans for some new books in the future

  18. who the fuck r u to suggest someone is gay or straight talkin about eminem like u fuckin know him stick to suckin cock u fuckin faggot or better yet die painfully []

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