On the way into the office this morning, my usual morning rituals were brought to a screeching halt walking past the neighboring newsstand, as I was hit in the face with the latest cover-line from In Touch: "Pregnant Kim's Worst Fear: HE'S GAY."
The "gay" man in question is Kanye West. Among the many things he is—the baby-daddy of Kim Kardashian's soon-to-be firstborn child, a musical genius, a fashion icon, and the 'worst type of celebrity' as he recently admitted—one thing he is not is a homosexual.
The article goes on to implicate that his lover is designer Riccardo Tisci, the head of the French fashion house Givenchy. Seeing as Kanye is basically a Givenchy ambassador, Riccardo and Kanye share a great bond over their love of fashion, art, and music. It makes sense that they spend time together. They live in close proximity to one another in both New York and Paris, and they share mutual friends, but the relationship can't be going that well, as Riccardo is gay, and Kanye is not.
The cover story goes on to cite anonymous sources like "close" friends of Kim, and "online commenters" to back up their claims about this steamy love triangle. I've got a lot of close friends, and all of them totally act like Kim's friends. You know: Stabbing me in the back, putting stories out there that aren't true, and so on. Because that's what "close friends" do—right? And don't get me started on the "factual information" that online commenters are glad to provide. If the Internet's commenters were a reliable news source, we'd live in a world where our President is an African Terrorist and where Elvis and Tupac vacation together on an island, laughing about how great being alive and in the Illuminati is.
In other words, get a grip, In Touch—this is bullshit.
But not just bullshit, but bullshit with a darker implications. There's enough rampant intolerance in the world already. The ramifications of this gossip rag printing garbage like this are unmeasurable. Disseminating a message like this to millions of readers—implying a celebrity's sexuality as a nefarious thing, with no evidence, or a reason for moral outrage like hypocrisy—is absolutely disgusting. Beyond the pale. And for the editors at In Touch who are gay, or for those who have gay family members, I suggest they put themselves in the shoes of anyone they've implicated in this story, and find that it's not a comfortable fit at all.
Why can't a straight dude—or a straight black man—have gay friends, and have it not be suspect?
It's one thing to have some minutely successful rapper going on a rant like a senile auntie about how Kanye is "half-a-fag" for wearing a kilt. You just ignore them, because the hip-hop industry can be archaic at times—because that's what you do to people like that, in lieu of them bringing their medication—but to have something so readily available on newsstands, where young gay children could see it when walking down the street, or in the grocery store with their parents, can do real damage. It doesn't hurt just Kanye, Kim, their unborn child, or Riccardo, but people who struggle with their homosexuality every day.
West has had several highly-publicized relationships with some well-known women, and let's not forget that sex tape, with a woman, that we almost got to see (except that he lawyered up to stop its release). I'll admit, I'd be the first person to watch that tape, and then do a "How To Dress Like Kanye West In His Sex Tape" for Complex immediately after my viewing. But: Why can't a straight dude—or a straight black man—have gay friends, and have it not be suspect? I have plenty of straight friends, and I have never looked at them sideways, or vice-versa, because our sexual preferences are clear. We live in 2013. In Touch lives in the age of puritanism and gay witch hunts.
If you want to say that Kim looks like a sofa in her floral dress at the Met, that's one thing. Celebrity schaudenfreud is a great American past-time. I won't be a hypocrite and write that I've never poked fun at Kanye's outfit choices, his love for fashion, or slipped in a joke about him being a queen—because I have. But it was all in jest and jealousy, usually because he wore something that I had recently purchased and had to return because it's now a "Kanye" item, like my poor Balenciaga Arena sneakers. After all: They're rich, they're famous, why not? And I totally get people being sick and tired of seeing Kim Kardashian in the media (get used to it, she's our generation's Liz Taylor). But does that invalidate her basic right to not be fucked with like this, in a manner best described as sociopathic? These two people have been through plenty, and all of it has unfolded in the public eye. You try that.
The point: Being gay shouldn't be the subject of a headline in 2013. Toying with sexuality to sell magazines isn't fair game, and Kanye should sue the shit out of them. This type of reporting is predatory, and meant to incite fear, a fear that being gay interrupts normalcy. Whether you don't or do (in 2013) believe that being gay is a choice, you'd have to agree that you can't accuse someone of being something they are not, and get away with it. Even in our broken justice system, the burden of proof is on the accuser. Why isn't it in a magazine?
The truth is that Kanye in a relationship with one of the most beautiful women on the earth, he's filthy rich, he's talented, an emotional wreck, crazy-stylish. Of course someone would want to call him gay: Because people out there still think this takes away from everything he's done. The gross, disgusting action of trying to do so only works to affirm this.
Matthew Henson (@matthewahenson) is the Market Editor of Complex Magazine and Complex.com.