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Magic Johnson, Homophobia in Hip-Hop: Partners With Rappers

Ray Amati, National Basketball Association

Magic Johnson is addressing an issue that tends to get thrown to the wayside when it comes to hip-hop: homophobia. The NBA superstar, who’s been living with HIV since 1991, recently spoke with The Huffington Post about his mission to educate the black community about the disease as well as AIDS and the new project he’s about to unveil that has rap stars rallying behind him.

A hip-hop fan himself, Johnson admits that homophobia is still an issue within the genre and in the black community, with men and women “scared to talk about it,” which heightens the spread of the disease. How’s he working towards battling the cold shoulder given towards gays in the hip-hop world? Johnson’s creating a new campaign that enlists the help of rappers using their voice to educate communities about HIV and AIDS.

“What we’re trying to do is reach out to the hip-hop community because they have power — power with their voice, power with that mic in their hand and power with the lyrics that they sing,” Johnson stated. “I have a lot of friends in that industry and so what we’re trying to do is rally them to get behind the cause, deliver the message to these young people that HIV and AIDS is big and it’s not going anywhere. They can make a difference right away by speaking out, because they have a big fan base.”

The former Los Angeles Lakers point guard will debut the project in 2012, revealing just which of hip-hop’s major players will take part. “We’ve got about five or six people that we’re talking to,” he disclosed. “We’re going to come out next year with everybody and we’ll have a nice big press conference and what we’re going to do, what our plan is, because it’s so important that we rally — not just them, either. I need the hip-hop community but I also need the basketball players and football players. We need a little bit of everybody, so that’s what we’re working on now.”

Besides his new initiative, Magic Johnson formed the Magic Johnson Foundation shortly after his HIV diagnosis in 1991, in an effort to combat AIDS. He’s dedicated 20 years thus far in changing lives in urban communities.

Watch ‘The Nature of Homophobia in Hollywood’

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