Unless you live under a rock, you've probably heard the EDM community's outcry over Homophobic remarks made by Lithuanian artist Ten Walls. If you haven’t, just type, “Ten Walls rant” into your search bar and find the same article rewritten over and over again. Titles with subject matter such as career suicide, bigotry, and other spewing hateful content about this person are flooding my Facebook feed, but why is this?
In no way, shape, or form do I condone Ten Wall's homosexual remarks but rather I feel sad for him as a human. We all know that the LGBT community has been influential in the dance music culture. They have always been there and will always have a place on our dance floor. But is it solely their place? EDM culture is based on the notion of setting aside differences and letting go of judgement for the sake of a united party.
Lithuanians officially gained their independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, and although they gained their cultural independence, they continue to accept and adopt Russian laws and practice. Russia and Lithuania legalized homosexual relationships in 1993. Prior to that, public display of homosexuality was punishable by jail sentence. More recently, Russian legislature banned homosexual “propaganda” or basically having any pride in being LGBT. Flags, protests, pride walks are essentially illegal. Don’t get me wrong... I’m not saying the United States is perfect, in fact we have come a long way in terms of tolerating others world views, but we still have far greater work before a truly peaceful culture can be cultivated.
How is this related to the whole article I have going? Well let’s look at the fact that Ten walls was brought up in a very intolerant society that only until 1993 gave the slightest bit of acceptance towards LGBT culture. He was actually ten years old at the time (ironic right?) when toleration of homosexual acts became legal. In Lithuania gay marriage and a host of other obvious civil liberties that we have in America (life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness ring a bell?) just aren’t there. To name a few: marriage, civil relationships, adoption by gay couples or just gay singles, is still illegal.
According to a study done by Lithuanian news source Delfi:
A poll conducted in 2009 showed that only 16% of Lithuanians would approve of a gay pride march in the capital and 81.5% of respondents considered homosexuality as a perversion, disease or paraphilia.” Also not to mention, from 2004- 2006, a media campaign against LGBT people was enacted by the popular Lithuanian tabloid Respublika. Two-thirds of the members of parliament declared their hostility to LGBT people during the campaign. These are the leaders of their country, more than half of the Lithuanian parliament was outspoken against LGBT rights and publicly homophobic; and the American LGBT community thinks they have it bad, right?
No one would like to be compared to a pedophile for something they can’t change, but is it right to say his career is over? Is there no room for growth or rehabilitation as a human in the electronic world? What if the LGBT community indirectly helped Ten Walls and provoked him to see a different perspective?
Ten Walls is an artist who was born into a cruel shallow worldview. He said those things, we get that, but should he just abandon his musical dream all together? It’s not our choice. Is that not as ignorant as the discrimination that the LGBT community has gotten in the past? The alienation the LGBT community has dealt with in the past is now on him. They have essentially had him exiled from the music industry. Ten Walls is “gay” to the world.
All the talks and public rants by his fellow artists I’m sure have at least had some new influence on his worldview. He has had the shallow hatred that the LGBT community constantly deals with flipped on him in a heartbeat and can now see things from their point of view. I doubt Ten Walls will ever be at a pride rally waving a rainbow flag in support, but that’s his right as a human, to choose who he is. Just like the LGBT community values that same right.
The Prime minister of Lithuania recently spoke on the controversy saying,
I believe the incident benefits the state in a way that, in this country, we are becoming more and more open in our discussions about how insular we are, our intolerance of people who are different, as well as homophobia. I believe discussions are a healthy thing, we need more of them, as the sooner Lithuania becomes more open and more tolerant, the better it will be for the country.
Out of all the negativity being pushed around, you have the leader of a country, grateful that her people are finally discussing and arguing intolerance. If your worldview is never challenged, you can literally see the world solely from your perspective.
From a humanistic standpoint, I think everyone has a right to his or her own opinion. I support happiness, even as bad as Ten Walls words were he deserves to be happy once more in his life. Whether it's music or another path, I think we would be ignorant if we say that the reaction to his words weren’t overbearing. He doesn’t deserve to tour or perform right now. He needs to work on himself. All this hate speak and bigotry needs to stop. People can change; your worldview is not the same as others. One day, although not in my lifetime, maybe all this hate will stop, for now all I can do is hope. Keep dancing and stay beautiful.
- Brian Sousa
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