exclusive: mykki blanco discusses gender politics and being hiv-positive in new grindr series

In “Chi Sessions,” Mykki Blanco, Cakes Da Killa, and Young Assata discuss the complexities of being LGBTQ in America today.

by André-Naquian Wheeler
23 June 2017, 3:40pm

Unfortunately, being a part of the LGBTQ community inevitably means having to navigate a plethora of complexities and identity politics. These obstacles come not only from the outside world, but from within the LGBTQ community too. And when you add in elements like being a person of color, HIV-positive, and/or gender-queer, the twists and turns get even more tricky. That's why Grindr, the gay dating app that has over 6 million active users, has teamed up with director and photographer Matt Lambert to explore what it means to be LGBTQ in America today.

The three-video series is called "Chi Sessions" and documents the inspiring thoughts and lives of Mykki Blanco, Cakes Da Killa, and Young Assata — three LGBTQ-identifying musicians. The videos will be hosted on Grindr's new content channel, Into. Which immediately conjures up memories of all the "Into?" messages one receives on the app. But that's just it, Grindr is attempting to become more than a hookup app.

"The anonymity that apps allow can often bring the ugliness out in people," Lambert admits. "However, I also feel that [it allows you to] connect with people who are outside of your bubble. Part of the goal of these films was to humanize these issues and to continue to push the conversations surrounding them."

In Lambert's profile of Mykki Blanco, the rapper dances around a Chicago hair salon while taking turns between dishing out maternal anecdotes and singing into a blowdryer used as a microphone. Blanco touches on some serious topics with a touch of sass: slut-shaming, how difficult dating can be when you're HIV-positive. 

"It's like, 'Oh, because you were a hoe, you got HIV,'" Blanco says on the mindset some bigoted people have towards his positive status. "I don't get to be that raw sexual person anymore. People will just be like, 'Oh, you're positive, you probably shouldn't put that in your songs.'"

Lambert's other two "Chi Sessions" are just as complex. For example, Cakes Da Killa laments on the sticky roles race, femininity, and body issues play in the gay dating community.

Watch Blanco slap down HIV prejudice, rap some raunchy bars, and perform a killer rendition of Teena Marie's "Square Biz" below. 

You can check out the rest of "Chi Sessions" at Grindr.com


Text André-Naquian Wheeler
Still "Chi Sessions" 

Matt Lambert
Mykki Blanco
young assata