It wasn’t without trepidation. In an August interview for Rap Radar, conducted before a live audience at Seattle’s ACT Theatre, Haggerty said, “The first bar was the most vulnerable of anything I’ve ever written, as far as being a rapper.” When I was in the third grade I thought that I was gay… He recalled thinking, “Damn, do I really wanna say this?” But in the end he decided, “It’s my story, and if I censor myself, I’m not doing my job as an artist.”
Haggerty released the sweet video accompanying the song in October 2012, openly hoping it would help increase support of Referendum 74, Washington’s historic gay marriage bill. Organizers took up the song as an anthem, and Macklemore and Ryan Lewis contributed some download proceeds to the campaign. Although nowhere near the dollar amount donated by our other Person of the Year, Jeff Bezos, the song’s contribution was huge in another way: bringing a blatantly political, pro-gay rights message into mainstream music.
Of course, “Same Love” has sparked controversy (teachers in Michigan and North Carolina who played the song in class were suspended, inciting outrage online), and its popularity pales in comparison to Macklemore’s other hits—as of early October, the “Same Love” video had a mere 83,695,858 YouTube views compared to 429,416,336 for “Thrift Shop” and 132,874,136 for “Can’t Hold Us.” But Haggerty has said, “In my heart it’s the most important song I’ve ever written.”
In August, upon accepting the MTV Video Music Award won by “Same Love” for Best Video with a Social Message, Haggerty said, “To watch this song in the last year spread across the world is a testament to what is happening right now in America on the forefront of equality. Gay rights are human rights, there is no separation.” A whole generation of kids is singing along with that message, on regular old radio.
PHOTO CREDIT: HAYLEY YOUNG