Hip-Hop Guru Kim Osorio Talks Homophobia  

Kim Osorio became a hip-hop legend in 2003 when she became the first (and so far, only) female editor in chief at The Source magazine, regarded as the Bible of hip-hop. After she was fired in 2005, Osorio took her case to court -- and won a judgment in her favor to the tune of $7.5 million. Now in her book, Straight From the Source, Osorio talks about the sexism and homophobia that often shaped her time in and around the hip-hop industry.

BY Clay Cane

October 02 2008 12:00 AM ET

Kim Osorio became
a hip-hop legend in 2003 when she decimated the glass
ceiling of one of the most hypermasculine sectors of the
music industry. The Bronx, N.Y., native became
the first (and so far, only) female editor in
chief at The Source magazine, regarded as the
Bible of hip-hop. 

But when word
spread (eventually turning out to be true) that the Latina
beauty dated hip-hop superstars 50 Cent and Nas, urban
media, artists, and even her own bosses at The
Source
blasted her talent and reputation. 

After unjustly
being fired from The Source in 2005, Osorio
challenged the toxic machismo of hip-hop by suing the
magazine, which resulted in a judgment in her favor to the
tune of $7.5 million. The jury found that she was
defamed by one of its co-owners, who claimed she slept
around with industry bigwigs, and that her termination
was retaliation for her complaints about her work
environment.

Now, Osorio tells
her story in her highly anticipated book Straight From
the Source
. In a shocking, revelatory, and at
times heartbreaking narrative, Osorio recounts her
experiences as one of the few successful women in the
hip-hop industry. 

"I'm not ashamed.
No one should be ashamed of their personal life, no
matter who you are," insists Osorio to The Advocate. 

In Straight
From the Source
, Osorio states, "Sometimes I
think the hip-hop industry is a bit antiquated in its
thinking. As if it's 1920 or something. When I look at
other industries, what's on television, and what we
consume as Americans, I wonder why the hip-hop circle
is so damn judgmental." 

Osorio was
judged, but in revealing her story, she went beyond the
confinements in hip-hop, thus resonating with various groups
who suffer the same stigmatization (bordering on
criminalization) while on the job or in everyday
life. 

When thinking of
sexism in hip-hop, one cannot forget its homophobia, a
contagious infection in an art form that once stood for
positivity. There are artists who have spoken out
against homophobes, including Russell Simmons,
Kanye West, and Advocate cover girl Mary J.
Blige. But do these select few endorsements
change in any way diehard antigay sentiment? 

"For Russell,
Mary, and Kanye I think it's genuine, but from the rest
of the community...I think they're just following," Osorio
reasons. "There are very few people who will openly
say something homophobic, and if they do...they tend
to take it back. They renege on their words
because they know how powerful the gay community is." 

Tags: Music

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